Militant Irish Monthly, No. 47, Oct. 1976

Ulsterbus strike against hi-jacking

On September 6th over 50 Ulsterbus drivers and crews staged a protest march through Derry demanding the Right to Work in Peace and an end to the hijacking and bombings of buses in Derry. All buses were stopped for over two hours when the drivers marched 1 miles from their depot to the Guildhall Square. They carried placards with slogans such as 'We drive buses not bombs' and 'Let us work in peace'.

A spokesman for the Busmen expressed the mood of the workers when he stated that their action was a spontaneous reaction to the bombings of the previous night. All the drivers and other workers were fed up with the situation at the moment.

'It just is not right that somebody can come along and force a bus driver to take a bomb on board his vehicle and drive to wherever that person chooses', he said. Four buses and two private cars were destroyed the night before when bombs exploded at the Ulsterbus depot in Pennyburn. This followed the hijacking, at gunpoint, of an Ulsterbus that night. Four youths forced the drier to take the bus to the gates of the depot. The youths had three duffle bags with them, each one containing a bomb. The driver was released unharmed as they placed a bomb in his bus and placed the others in two other buses. Although nobody was hurt, an engineering worker was trapped inside the perimeter wire of the depot and had to be rescued by soldiers.


No organisation has claimed responsibility but it is generally assumed to be the work of the Provisionals. (The bus had been hijacked in the Republican area of Shantallow.) As can be seen from the protest action by the drivers, the bombing campaign does not raise the level of consciousness of workers in the day-to-day struggle against the policies of British capitalism and the repression by the British army.

In fact the opposite is the case. Not only that, but these methods of individual terror, despite the desire of the young volunteers to seek revenge against the policies of the British ruling class, only provide the excuse to crack down on the Catholic areas and the labour movement by introducing all kinds of repressive legislation.

One small example of this was demonstrated by the actions of the British army some considerable time after the bombings at Pennyburn. A number of teenagers were stopped in the vicinity of the depot and were harassed and questioned by the army. A group of lads coming home from a fishing trip were held by the Army who took their names and addresses.

The protest action by the drivers cannot be seen as 'one sided'. In May of this year these men staged a sit down in the main road outside the Fort George army barracks when they protested against the actions of the army. The previous night a bus travelling in the direction of Shantallow was fired on by a soldier from the barracks. As a result of this indiscriminate shooting a young man of 20 years, who had only been released from Long Kesh, was shot dead as he sat next to his girlfriend. The bus drivers delivered a petition to the O/C of the army camp demanding that the army cease this type of murderous action against ordinary people. These events in Derry together with the events that led to the launching of the Trade Union campaign against sectarianism and unemployment demonstrate the desire of the working class people for a solution to these evils and for an end to the repression of the British army.

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