Belfast Telegraph

Vandals set fire to toilet block at Northern Ireland beauty spot Browns Bay

By Angela Rainey

Arsonists who set fire to a toilet block at a coastal beauty spot have been branded "moronic".

Substantial damage was caused to the building at the award-winning Browns Bay beach at Islandmagee in Co Antrim following the suspected arson attack on Saturday.

The facility, which is used by tourists and local people, is also known to attract underage drinkers.

It was badly damaged and will be closed "for the foreseeable future".

Just yards from the award-winning sandy cove, the toilet block is also close to the former Browns Bay Caravan Park, which was closed in 2014 due to reports of anti-social behaviour.

Paul Reid, the mayor of Mid and East Antrim, said repairs are estimated to run into thousands of pounds.

The area had experienced a freezing wind chill and despite sub-zero temperatures the blaze took hold, gutting the block and destroying the roof and internal structure.

An investigation is now underway into how the fire was started at the remote location.

Mr Reid said he was "saddened" by the incident and condemned those responsible.

"There was quite a lot of damage to the toilet area and I totally condemn this," he said. "Those who did this, who destroyed facilities by the council for use by its citizens, have no place in a right-thinking society.

"I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the extent of the damage to these facilities at Browns Bay.

"Investigations are at an early stage, but it appears the fire may have been started deliberately.

"If this does prove to be the case then the mindset of anybody who would set out to cause such wanton destruction is baffling and there can be absolutely no defence for such a moronic and dangerous act.

"This service will now be out of bounds to the public until repairs can be carried out, with needless expenditure incurred by ratepayers."

Mr Reid said that the facilities were particularly well used in the summer months as tourists and local people would flock to the beach for picnics.

"It is quite a remote area where there is the beach which is absolutely lovely, some houses and a shop, so having these facilities is also a benefit," he added.

Mr Reid urged anyone with information to contact police.

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