Derry fans call for train to be re-routed to city for All-Ireland Croke semi-final trip
A campaign group has called for a 'special' train for Derry GAA supporters ahead of the All-Ireland semi-final at the weekend.
Translink has in place a return rail service from Belfast to Dublin on Saturday for fans wanting to travel to Croke Park. The public transport provider is also running bus services.
A petition has now been launched by campaign group 'Into the West', calling for the service to begin and return to Londonderry.
The lobby group has been campaigning since 2004 for the upgrading of train services to the north west.
The group has highlighted that the service starts and ends 30 miles from the nearest part of the county and 70 miles from the city itself.
Large numbers of supporters are expected to head to Dublin for the crucial clash against Galway.
According to the group, the petition is meant to send a "clear message to Translink that their thinking here is unacceptable".
The SDLP's Sinéad McLaughlin has backed the campaign, saying an extended service would make attending the match more accessible and convenient for fans.
The Foyle MLA 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."
She added that she has contacted the organisation directly to consider extending the special service.
Ms McLaughlin said: "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.”
In a statement, Translink stated that it was operating a number of transport options on Saturday.
"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."
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