Rathcoole community facility set to reopen after arson attack

The arson attack caused extensive damage to the Dunanney Centre's boiler house and heating system.
The arson attack caused extensive damage to the Dunanney Centre's boiler house and heating system.

Rathcoole’s Dunanney Centre is due to reopen on Monday, April 28 after it was damaged in an arson attack last week.

The fire, which occurred in the early hours of Thursday, April 17, caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the building.

Despite three individuals being captured on CCTV carrying out the attack, no-one has yet been apprehended in connection with the crime and police are continuing with their enquiries.

Centre Manager, Vicky Moore told The Times that basic repairs to the heating and water supply would allow the facility to resume its full programme of services to the public. She stated: “The engineers have been in since yesterday. All community groups will be able to use the centre from Monday.”

The centre, founded by Rathcoole Churches Community Group, offers meeting, training and conference facilities to public, private and community organisations.

Tenants of the facility include Newtownabbey CAB, North City Training and Called2Care. In the aftermath of the fire, the centre was forced to cancel a number of events, including community programmes.

Describing the CCTV footage of the attack, Vicky commented: “The camera caught three individuals clambering over the wall at the corner nearest The Diamond.

“They pulled slats out of the boiler house door and wire from the inside of the door. They poured a large jerry can of petrol or accelerant towards the door and lit it. There was a big explosion.”

Vicky told The Times that she was shocked at the unprovoked attack, especially as the centre works for the benefit of the local community.

Such was the force of the blaze that the centre’s heating system and water supply were damaged.

Vicky continued: “I have no idea why someone would do something like this. We are a church organisation and we provide services to people in Rathcoole and beyond. This has caused thousands and thousands of pounds worth of damage.”

However, the centre manager revealed that since the incident, the public have shown their support.

She added: “Members of the public who have been coming in have been disgusted that anyone could do this. We have also had several elected representatives visit to express their support.

“I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the police. Our centre needs the public and they need us. If anyone could help identify the perpetrators, we would be very grateful.”

Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb condemned those responsible for the attack.

He declared:“I am disgusted that mindless thugs have targeted the Dunanney Centre which offers valuable community services. The Citizens Advice Bureau operates from the centre and provides help and support to a large number of people in the area.

“Had the gas supply been ruptured in this fire then there could have been massive property damage. If anybody has any information about this arson attack then I would urge them to contact the police.”