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Malicious fire a bitter blow to local community

30-plus jobs in danger after shops blaze

By Ciara Quinn

POLICE are investigating the cause of a fire at three commercial premises in Poleglass which is believed to have been started deliberately.

45 firefighters tackled the blaze on the Pembrooke Loop Road close to Colin Mill which was started in the early hours of Tuesday.

It is understood the fire broke out after a rubbish bin was set against a wall at one of the shops and then set alight. The fire then quickly spread to the roofs of all three shops causing extensive damage. The shops, known in the community as the Colin Centre, included a taxi depot, a fast food outlet and a Nisa convenience store, widely used by the many residents of the Colin area. All three units were completely destroyed in the fire.

Sinn Féin Lisburn Councillor Arder Carson said the attack had left at least 30 people out of work and added “We are looking at a repair bill of up to £300,000.”

“There are CCTV systems in place at this premises and I hope it aids the PSNI with their investigation into how this fire was started,” he added. “People have lost their jobs, residents have lost their services. There have been anti-community elements around this area before but nothing on this scale.”

Another Sinn Féin Poleglass Councillor, Stephen Magennis, said residents are “looking for action to be taken”. He continued: “They want these people arrested and brought before the courts. I would urge anyone with information or anyone who saw anything suspicious to report it to the PSNI.”

SDLP Councillor Brian Heading condemned those responsible, calling the fire “a cynical attack on people in this community going about their everyday lives and trying to make a living”.

“This apparently malicious fire is not only depriving the local community of much-needed services, it’s put close to 40 jobs at risk in an area where people are crying out for work,” said Jim McCarthy, Chair of the Colin Community Safety subgroup. “Several weeks ago over 50 tyres were set on fire only yards from this attack and caused huge inconvenience to businesses and local families. We are meeting police, NIHE and other statutory agencies to seek assurances that these criminals are being pursued and the businesses receive all the support that they need.”

Community Safety Officer with CNP, Michael George, said the community was “100 per cent behind the businesses”. “Since early August a small anti-social element In the Colin Mill area have been attempting to hold the local community to ransom,” he said. “Having spoken to some of the shop owners and employees, I’m heartened by their resolve to get back to business and this community will be 100 per cent behind them.”

Police are asking anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area around the time of the fire or who has any information to contact the CID in Lisburn on 0845 600 8000.

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