02 January 2006

Arson attack: 7 jobs may go


Jobs lost in centre blaze

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Bill for damage estimated at £400,000

Up to seven jobs may be lost after arsonists destroyed a group of portable cabins in Ballymurphy.

Thieves broke into the cabins on the Whiterock Road, a former Irish school which are now home to a number of community projects, and stole equipment before starting fires on three separate nights over the Christmas period.

The most recent of the blazes occurred on Wednesday night, when two fire appliances were called to quell the blaze which took hold in the former An tSléibhe Dhuibh bunscoil near the Whiterock leisure centre. The Fire Service confirmed that it was started deliberately.

The cost of the damage has been estimated at approximately £400,000 and may result in the closure of this complex which comes under the joint control of community group, Club Eachtra, and community business Black Mountain Enterprises.

Tómas Ó Muireagáin, the manager of Black Mountain Enterprises, a business which produces bilingual signage and embroidered products, is one of three in the firm to lose their jobs.

He is deeply angered by the attacks.

“That has been providing services and jobs for the last 15 years. Club Eachtra was one of the most, if not the most, active community groups in the area, providing youth services, education programmes, and community work programmes.

“Four further jobs look like they could be lost with the after schools project and the senior youth club losing their buildings. The Club Eachtra committee will be determined to get it going but from what I’ve seen the damage is too much.”

The area has been plagued by a group of youths involved in anti-social behaviour since June 2004. A fire was started in one of the huts in June 2004, and another one followed in May 2005.

Chairperson of Club Eachtra, Liam Ó Mealláin, says that the campaign of destruction waged by local thugs has almost completely destroyed the properties.

“At the moment the only project that they haven’t burnt us out of is the after schools club and we are waiting for this to happen any night.

“This is going on on a nightly basis, although it seems to happen more on holidays and weekends. It is just pure rotten destruction, it is an attack on children’s facilities,” said Mr Ó Mealláin.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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