A veteran Translink employee has died after being taken ill at work yesterday.
The tragedy unfolded during the morning in the heart of Belfast city centre, where he had been manning the Metro bus ticket kiosk.
Though neither police nor Translink named the deceased, it is understood he is Martin O’Neill – said to be a Belfast man who has worked for the firm for the last 32 years.
He had been posted at the kiosk beside the City Hall for about the past eight years.
Michael Dornan from the Unite trade union said they did not know exactly what happened, except that he had been taken ill suddenly.
“It’s a big shock to everyone,” he said.
“He was well-known to all the bus drivers, and everybody in the city centre area. He was just one friendly character; very helpful.
“People used to come there not only for tickets, but for directions, for the best place to get things. He was like a tourist attraction.
“The whole of the Metro bus drivers are in shock that this has happened so suddenly to someone as well-respected and liked.”
He added that he would have worked throughout the Troubles, and had been considering retirement in the next year or two.
It is believed he was aged around 60.
The Ambulance Service said they had received the call at about 8.20am, and that a paramedic was on the scene minutes later – but that the casualty was dead upon arrival.
Police said only that they had received a report of a sudden, non-suspicious death at about 8.50am.
Speaking from the scene yesterday, Translink manager Roy Sloan branded it “a tragic loss”.
“He was a valuable member of staff,” he said. “He’s going to be deeply missed by all the staff of Translink.”
The firm put out a statement which read: “Our deepest sympathies go out to our colleague’s family and friends for this sad and sudden loss.”