Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon mum doesn't fell safe in home after bin arson attack

Condemnation: Barry Monteith
Condemnation: Barry Monteith
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A resident of a block of flats in Co Tyrone has said she no longer feels safe at home following an arson attack.

Four people were evacuated from the complex in the Lisnahull Park area of Dungannon yesterday morning after a wheelie bin was set alight beside the entrance.

A mum who has lived in the flats for more than three years said that she no longer felt safe in her home.

She added: "This was no accident - this was meant to cause harm. I can only thank the police. It could have been a different outcome.

"To rob anyone of feeling safe in their own home disgusts me."

The blaze was reported at around 3am and was extinguished by police officers who arrived on the scene just before fire crews.

Independent councillor Barry Monteith branded the attack "reckless" and warned it could have cost lives.

"This was a very indiscriminate attack," Mr Monteith said. "There are six flats in this particular block and all the tenants share a communal entrance, which means they were all put at risk.

"This could have easily ended in tragedy."

Mr Monteith also expressed concern that flats in the area still have communal entrances following the deaths of Betty McGirr (71) and Deirdre McGirr (38) in April 2012.

The pensioner had been visiting her daughter when a fire was deliberately started at a block of flats on Dunlea Vale, less than a mile away from the scene of yesterday's incident.

The Dunlea Vale fire ripped through the top floor property where the women were staying.

No one was convicted for the double murder, which baffled investigators.

In that incident it is believed that a wheelie bin was set on fire beside a communal entrance to the block of flats.

Mr Monteith said Betty and Deirdre's names were in the thoughts of everyone in the town again yesterday.

"It has brought back painful memories," he added.

"Everyone has been reminded of what was an awful tragedy in this town."

The independent councillor also expressed concern that properties had not been redesigned after the harrowing 2012 incident, which he said had highlighted "serious safety concerns".

"Communal entrances are very dangerous," Mr Monteith added.

"It is shocking that the Housing Executive needs to be reminded of this all these years later"

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