'Malicious’ blaze at new factory build site

Thursday, 31 May 2018

A MALICIOUS blaze at the new factory build development by Sportswear giant O'Neills in Strabane has caused an estimated £3,000 worth of damage, the PSNI has said.
Detectives who are investigating the incident have confirmed that it is believed the fire was started deliberately.
One Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue (NIFRS) appliance was tasked to the factory on Monday evening at around 8.20pm to extinguish the fire.
"Firefighters dealt with a small fire on a building site. The cause of the fire appears to be deliberate.
"The incident was dealt with at 9.15pm," a NIFRS spokesperson said.
Police are now appealing for witnesses to the fire at the site - located just off the Melmount Road roundabout - to come forward.
It is the site of a new storage and distribution facility and factory shop complex currently being constructed by the company.
The ambitious expansion plans were unveiled earlier this year after O'Neills was granted full planning permission by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
O'Neills, which is best known for its manufacture of GAA kit, said the major expansion will aid with the development of its online business operations and pave the way for the creation of 175 new jobs.
Currently celebrating its centenary year, the company employs in the region of 600 people in the locality at its existing site.
Issuing an appeal for information about the fire, a PSNI spokesperson said: "Police are currently investigating an incident at the new O'Neill's Sports Factory, currently under construction at the Dublin Road Industrial Estate, Strabane.
"On May 28, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service attended that location and put out a fire, which had been started maliciously and had caused £3,000 worth of damage."
The spokesperson continued: "Officers would ask anyone who witnessed the incident or who has any information to contact them in Strabane on 101 quoting reference number 231 29/05/18.
"Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100 per cent anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime," the spokesperson added.
Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), work was continuing at the site however Sinn Féín West Tyrone MLA., Michaela Boyle, condemned those responsible.
She said that the fire could have seriously jeopardised the explansion currently taking place.
She has also appealed for anyone with information to come forward and bring it to the PSNI to assist with their investigations.
"O Neill's Sports is Strabane's biggest employer and its commitment to the area has been further re-enforced by ongoing expansion by the company with the current construction of a new storage distribution facility and shop complex.
"It is frightening therefore to think that someone has set out to maliciously set a fire and cause damage at this site and by doing put this expansion and the creation of an estimated additional 170 jobs in jeopardy.
"I would appeal for anyone with information about this arson attack to bring it forward," the local MLA said.


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