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RSPB vows to defy van arsonists after weekend attack

By Mark Bain

The RSPB has said it is doing all it can to fulfil its duties following the theft and arson of one of its vans last weekend.

RSPB NI's community team van was stolen during an overnight creeper burglary sometime on Saturday.

The vehicle was later found burnt out at Paxton Street in east Belfast.

RSPB NI director Joanne Sherwood said: "To receive the news that our van had been stolen and later destroyed by fire is just devastating, particularly when resources for charities are so scarce.

"We're at the start of the busy summer period when our community outreach team should be out and about attending events and festivals across Northern Ireland with advice on how to give nature a home. "This is a real setback to the team who will now be working hard to get back up and running while we deal with insurance claims and finding a replacement as soon as possible.

"We would appeal to anyone who may have seen the distinctive white and blue-branded Vauxhall Combi Van on Saturday into Sunday morning to contact police on the 101 number quoting reference number 301 of July 1, 2018."

This week the RSBP has commitments to meet at C&J's Animal Park in Craigavon and Pickie Fun Park in Bangor.

Coming up the charity is planning to attend Castlewellan Agricultural Show and the Dalriada Festival.

The charity said: "RSPB volunteers have been using their own cars to attend these events, which are an essential part of getting the charity's message out to the public.

"We have made these commitments and will be doing everything we can to make sure we're still in attendance.

"It has been difficult to make the alternative arrangements.

"Logistically, we're relying on the goodwill of volunteers to pitch in and help in whatever way they can."

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