Northern Ireland news

Charity counts cost after car smashes through west Belfast store front

Extensive damage was caused to the charity shop on Andersonstown Road in west Belfast
Brendan Hughes

A CHARITY says it is facing a £7,000 loss of income after a car smashed through one of its west Belfast stores just weeks after reopening.

One staff member was just feet away when the vehicle ripped through the shop front after being struck from behind by a PSNI Land Rover, causing extensive damage.

Firefighters had to cut a woman in her forties from the car wreckage in the dramatic scenes which unfolded on Andersonstown Road on Tuesday.

It is believed the police vehicle had its blue lights on and was responding to an emergency call-out when the crash happened at about 4.50pm.

Peter Lynch, retail operations manager at Action Cancer, attended the scene shortly after the alarm was raised.

He said two staff members were on site when the car smashed through its store front.

"The younger member of staff, she was literally three feet away from it when it came through the window," he said.

"Staff are very shocked and it is obviously devastating destruction.

"Whenever you see that scene it's obviously a very destructive scene, but obviously our thoughts are with the poor woman.

"Her whole body was vibrating with shock as the fire service was working with her."

The store, which sells second-hand furniture, is the charity's most profitable per square footage of its 18 shops across Northern Ireland.

It had been closed since the end of March due to Covid-19 and only reopened on July 27.

Many charities have been under sustained pressure due to a collapse in donations as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Lynch said they had to dump some of their stock which was damaged and covered in shards of glass.

He said repairs to the store – which he estimated could cost between £5,000 and £10,000 – would be covered by insurers.

However, he expressed concern over one of their most popular stores now being out of action for several weeks.

"Unfortunately the shop had only been reopened three weeks after lockdown," he said.

"The whole shop front was taken out and there was extensive damage. We could be looking at two to three weeks of closure."

He said that after only recently reopening, "now we're looking at a loss of £6,000 to £7,000 in income".

The crash involving a PSNI Land Rover and Kia Sportage happened near the Andersonstown Leisure Centre.

Video footage by members of the public following the crash shows a police officer climbing over an empty baby seat in the car to reach the injured driver.

Police said the woman's injuries were not thought to be serious.

The ambulance service said one emergency crew and two rapid response vehicles were called to the scene, and one patient was brought to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

As is normal procedure the Police Ombudsman is expected to investigate the incident.

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