Lothian buses defends decision to stop Edinburgh services in face of ‘anti-catholic' accusations from MSP James Dornan
Edinburgh based travel company Lothian has defended their decision to stop services for a night after anti-social behaviour.
The group were accused by James Dornan MSP for deliberately choosing St Patrick’s Day to stop evening services in a speech he made to parliament.
He said: “I can only assume that Lothian buses concluded it was one of two things: that I’d be out celebrating my birthday or that Irish Catholics were to blame for this rise in antisocial behaviour.”
His comments have been branded as ‘nonsense’ by Edinburgh councillor Scott Arthur, who added: “I stand in solidarity with Lothian Buses' staff and customers, some of whom have been subjected to horrendous abuse.”
The company announced on March 17 that services running after 7.30pm in the city would be cancelled after eight buses serving the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary were targeted by vandals.
Some of the anti social behaviour included large rocks and stones thrown at buses, some smashing windows and one bus driver was assaulted.
The buses were stopped completely for one evening on March 17, though subsequently individual services were cancelled in the following days as some buses continued to be targetted.
Police Scotland worked closely with Lothian to put an end to the behaviour, and patrolled specific areas, spot checked buses and had undercover officers on board throughout evenings.
The police, Edinburgh Council and UNITE union all supported the move to cancel the buses.
A spokesperson for Lothian said: “Lothian is committed to delivering for all of our customers and has operated across Edinburgh and the Lothians for over 100 years, serving at the heart of all local communities.
“Across the last 16 months our teams on the frontline and behind the scenes have worked exceptionally hard to keep the city moving in challenging times.
“At the height of antisocial incidents, our drivers were subjected to daily attacks and on various occasions we were forced to take the difficult decision to remove services from affected areas.
“Our decision to remove services after 1900hrs on 17 March was taken following serious concerns for the safety of our colleagues and we would not hesitate to do so again - regardless of the time of year.”