Youths stone tourist bus in Belfast

An open-top bus full of tourists had a window smashed when it was stoned by youths in west Belfast today.

An open-top bus full of tourists had a window smashed when it was stoned by youths in west Belfast today.

None of the 40 tourists from around the world were injured, but the operator of Allen’s Tours said they were left in a state of shock.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said a number of youths wearing hooded tops were seen running away after the attack in Divis Street which runs into the nationalist Falls Road.

Tour company boss Ben Allen said he was furious about the stoning.

“A group of thugs came out of a side entry and started stoning the bus and one of the windows was smashed. Thankfully no one was injured but they were in shock.

“I am angry, I am disgusted. Tourists are here to have a good time and have a look around and they get this, its madness, complete madness.

“We had people from Canada, Australia and even a couple from Norway on board.

“They didn’t want to abandon the trip, they all wanted to go ahead with the tour,” said Mr Allen.

Stoning of buses was a daily occurrence during the troubles but less so recently.

Mr Allen said: “This was a bit too realistic, a bit too close for comfort. One of the tourists asked me if this was a big deal. I said it used to happen all the time but not now.”

He said his driver said there were five in the group of youths who attacked the bus. “He said the youngest looked about 13 and the oldest about 18 or 19.”

He said he was going to make a decision about dropping the area from the tour route of his seven buses, but the drivers had told him they were happy to continue. “We are not going to be intimidated”, he said.

It was the first time such an attack had been mounted on one of his vehicles. “A few weeks ago someone threw a brick from a building site – the sort of thing kids do – but this was different.”

Open-top bus tours of Belfast have become ever more popular with the increasing number of tourists visiting the city – taking in the republican and loyalist murals of east and west Belfast as well as the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built.

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