Sinn Fein Belfast HQ ‘could have been destroyed’ in arson attack

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An arson attack on Sinn Fein’s Belfast headquarters would have destroyed the building if a nearby oil tank had ignited, a party MP said.

Paul Maskey praised the swift action of firefighters who extinguished a blaze lit at the back door of Connolly House in the west of the city in the early hours.

The fire was set alight on doorway that covered a pipe running from the Andersonstown Road property’s oil tank. The pipe was left fractured on Monday morning with oil leaking on the ground.

Fire damage
Fire damage around an exposed oil pipe at Connolly House in west Belfast (David Young/PA)

“We are very lucky there was no more damage done,” he said.

“There is an oil tank and obviously an oil pipe that is now busted and leaking.

“We are very lucky that did not catch fire as well, because if that had caught fire not only would this building have been destroyed but the surrounding buildings would have also been destroyed, so we are thankful for that.”

The incident comes weeks after the nearby homes of Sinn Fein veterans Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey were targeted with explosive devices.

While the party blamed those attacks on dissident republicans, Mr Maskey said it was “too early” to establish who was behind the arson and paint bomb attack on Connolly House.

“Last night’s disgraceful arson attack on our Connolly House office must be condemned by all,” he added.

“This was an attack on the democratic process.

“Clearly the people behind this are intent on trying to disrupt the services we provide to all the public.”

Police confirmed the incident is being treated as arson and have appealed for witnesses.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said: “The fire was reported to us at around 4.50am.

“Police attended along with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, who extinguished the blaze.

“Damage was caused to a door at the rear of the building, and to fascia boarding.

“There was no damage reported to the inside of the building. Paint was also thrown at a front window of the building.”

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