Northern Ireland news

Trees which survived Primark fire should be preserved as 'symbol of hope'

Two trees are still standing close to the Primark store in Belfast city centre that was gutted by fire last week
By Rebecca Black, Press Association

Two trees which survived an enormous fire which gutted Belfast's Bank Buildings should be preserved as a symbol of hope, it has been proposed.

A huge blaze destroyed the front section of the building, which housed a Primark store, and took more than three days to extinguish.

It started close to the top of the building at around 11am on Tuesday last week, leaving a charred shell.

Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey opened Monday evening's meeting of Belfast City Council by expressing her thanks to the emergency services for their work.

She added her hopes that the historic facade can be saved.

A room in Belfast City Hall has been made available for Primark workers and their Usdaw union representatives to meet today to discuss their situation moving forward.

The landmark five-storey building was quickly evacuated after the blaze broke out and there were no reported injuries or loss of life.

A cordon remains in place around the Bank Buildings.

Leaders of all the parties represented on the council paid tribute to the work of the Primark staff in evacuating the building and the emergency services.

They also expressed solidarity with the Primark workers and the businesses in the area which have been affected.

Ulster Unionist councillor Chris McGimpsey said two trees at the front of the building survived the blaze.

He proposed that the trees be relocated to the grounds of Belfast City Hall to serve as a "symbol of hope".

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