Belfast Telegraph

Concern as vandalised substation still unsafe

By Victoria O'Hara

A councillor has urged Northern Ireland Electricity to secure an electricity substation targeted by vandals twice within 24 hours after no repairs to security fencing appeared to have been made.

Thousands of homes in north Belfast were left without power after intruders armed with “specialised equipment” targeted the substation in Ballysillan.

It was first damaged at around 11pm on Sunday, causing a power failure affecting 6,000 properties.

NIE engineers repaired the equipment and also installed additional security measures. While working to restore electricity supplies a NIE response vehicle was damaged.

Just a day later, engineers had to return to the scene after it was targeted by vandals once more.

A spokesman for NIE confirmed that vandals used specialised equipment to break the additional security measures installed on the substation gates close to Alliance Avenue on Monday.

This incident left around 4,000 properties without electricity.

Power supplies were restored within two hours of both incidents.

It is understood that a security guard manned the site last night.

However, security fencing surrounding the substation was still hanging loose, a gap remains in the fence, and security wire is missing. Oldpark councillor Lee Reynolds urged NIE to fix the problems urgently.

“The responsibility for the vandalism lies with the vandals and anyone with information should bring it to the police,” he said. “But NIE still has a responsibility to ensure the substation is secure and safe — as quickly as possible.”

NIE safety manger Kevin |McDowell condemned those behind the vandalism.

“Our priority is the safety of the public and our employees,” he said.

“These vandals are risking their own and other peoples' lives by breaking into this substation.

“There is live high voltage equipment inside, and interfering with it can be unforgiving.

“They are also causing great inconvenience to the local community who are left without electricity.”

Sinn Fein councillor Gerard McCabe said a full investigation was needed into the incident.

“Once full power has been restored, I will be expecting a full investigation and resulting action to ensure that the vandals will not be able to cause this type of damage again,” he said.

“This attack bears no logic whatsoever and brought unnecessary hardship to thousands.”

Anyone with information can contact the PSNI on 084 5600 8000 or NIE on 084 5764 3643.

Belfast Telegraph

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