SDLP West Belfast councillor Paul Doherty has said that Glider staff must be safe from attack when carrying out their duties.

He was speaking after reports that 28 Glider staff were subjected to physical attacks in 2023.

“We must treat this rise in attacks on Glider staff with the seriousness it deserves," he said.

"These staff play an important role in providing a vital public service and it’s absolutely disgraceful that someone would be physically assaulted simply for doing their job. The testimony of Glider staff shows how deep an impact these attacks can have and that stretches far beyond the initial physical injuries suffered.

“As someone who regularly uses and relies on Glider services I know first-hand the great work that staff do. The staff I encounter are pleasant and courteous and the vast majority of passengers respond in kind, but I have spoken out in the past about issues around anti-social behaviour on these services, particularly later in the day and it’s clear that we still have some way to go to tackle these issues.

“I understand that there is a zero-tolerance policy from Translink towards this issue and that they work to support the staff affected, the PSNI are also doing everything they can to apprehend offenders, but the sentences being handed out in court are demoralising staff by not recognising the full seriousness of these offences.

“Many of these attacks are fuelled by drugs and alcohol and we all know that we have more to do to tackle those issues within our society, but we cannot allow anybody who is simply trying to do a day’s work suffer attacks of this nature.

"I would support calls for the review of sentencing when it comes to attacks of this nature so that people are fully aware of the consequences of such actions and staff can continue to do their jobs without fear of attack.”