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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Shaun Keenan

Derry GAA train leaving from Belfast sparks anger from fans

Translink has issued a statement after Derry GAA fans' vented their frustration that a train heading to the All-Ireland semi-final clash on Saturday will leave from Belfast and not Derry.

The bus and rail operator announced last week that a 'special train' would be available for fans to use to travel to Croke Park for Derry's game against Galway on July 9.

The service - which will leave from Lanyon Place Train Station - is 30 miles from the Antrim/Derry border, 70 miles from Derry City and 52 miles from Coleraine.

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Rail Campaigner, Steve Bradley from Into the West, said fans "demanded" that Translink start and end this service in Derry City, with stops in Coleraine and Bellarena, reports Belfast Live.

In his petition message on, Mr Bradley said: "It makes no sense to offer a special train to Derry supporters that goes nowhere near County Derry and which stops in Lurgan, Portadown and Newry instead.

"Special trains have run from Derry through to Dublin in the past, [for example] the Pope's visit in 2018. Translink provided a Special train from Portadown last month for Armagh GAA supporters to attend their All-Ireland Quarter-Final

"There are no insurmountable technical reasons why the special train for Derry supporters can't start in Derry city and stop at Coleraine on its way through to Dublin - even within the usual Saturday schedule. All that is lacking is the will from Translink to ensure that this can happen."

However, Translink said they were offering "a number of transport options" to fans wishing to travel to Dublin this week. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “There are coach specials leaving Foyle Street in Derry~Londonderry, Dungiven and Maghera to Dublin.

“A rail special is also running from Belfast to Dublin (return) on Saturday for those wishing to travel by train. Passengers can use scheduled services to connect with this train.

"We will assess requirements from bookings for onward connections for the return journey as the week progresses, subject to demand.”

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin said she has contacted Translink and asked them to extend the service to Derry.

She said: “I can understand the frustration of Derry GAA fans following Translink’s announcement that they are introducing a special service to take fans to the All-Ireland semi-final in Dublin on Saturday, given that remarkably it's running from Belfast and not Derry.

“This match with Galway is Derry’s biggest game for two decades and we should be doing everything possible to make this match is as accessible to fans as possible.

"I accept that bus services are available, but I cannot understand why this train service is running from Belfast and not Derry. It’s not just about our city, but the Derry to Belfast line passes through Co Derry which is where many of the GAA strongholds in this area are located.

“I have contacted Translink directly to ask them to consider extending this special service to Derry. We have seen additional services from Derry to Dublin added in the past for important events and I fail to see a justifiable reason why this should be any different.

"Saturday’s semi-final is set to be a huge occasion for this entire area, it’s our biggest game for a generation and I hope Translink will reconsider this decision to help fans get to Croke Park in the most convenient way possible to cheer on the team.”


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