Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone community centre arsonists 'may have had local knowledge'

 Damage was caused to an upstairs bar as well as a lounge at Castlebay Community Centre in Brocagh, Co Tyrone
Claire Simpson and Annamay McNally

THE owner of a Co Tyrone community centre which suffered substantial damage in an arson attack, says he is determined to get the premises up and running within weeks.

A blaze broke out in the upstairs bar of the Castlebay Centre in Brocagh early on Wednesday morning. 
 
A lounge was also badly damaged, while money and goods were stolen.
 
Brian McDonald, who owns the property with his wife Tracey, said a number of social functions, including one for a local cancer charity, will still go ahead.
 
Mr McDonald praised the support given to him and his wife by the local community following the attack.
 
"People have been great and have been rallying behind us, helping in any way they can", he continued.
 
"There were three fires lit upstairs and one down in the bar, so we would suspect this was done by somebody who knows the area and knows the layout of the premises.
 
"Whether it's down to jealousy or just badness, we don't know."
 
Mid Ulster MLA, Linda Dillon, who met with the owners at Castlebay on Thursday, said the local community had been left "disgusted" by what had taken place.
 
"Not only is this a local business which is supporting a family and their income, but Castlebay has become a real hub for this rural community”, the Sinn Fein MLA added.
 
"The community have rallied round and have been great. Anyone with any information should contact the PSNI. This was an attack on the community and cannot be tolerated."
 

SDLP councillor Malachy Quinn said: "I have spoken to the family who recently took over the bar and they are devastated by the damage done here having just recently spent money doing the place up.

"This centre hosts many events during the week for the local community which will now have to be put on hold because of this damage.

"This week alone there was to be a crafts fair with money going to cancer research which will now have to be cancelled, along with local community groups having to re-locate or cancel their meetings and birthday parties that have been booked."

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