Apartment block damaged by fire was insured, says MP

Fire officers hosed the block for more than hour, from above and below, but still it was damaged by the vast Sandy Row bonfire.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Fire officers hosed the block for more than hour, from above and below, but still it was damaged by the vast Sandy Row bonfire. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A Belfast apartment block damaged by a loyalist bonfire is fully insured and repairs will be undertaken, the MP for the area has said.

Emma Little Pengelly also pledged to work with the community in Sandy Row to ensure that the incident would not be repeated.

Windows in the high-rise building in central Belfast shattered and other scorch damage was sustained during the bonfire on Tuesday night.

Firefighters spent the night dousing the tower on Wellwood Street with water in an effort to prevent it catching fire.

Affected residents have demanded accountability and questioned who will pay for what is likely to be a significant repair bill.

The government and Belfast City Council have ruled out offering compensation for the damage.

Ben Lowry: Bonfires can be a fine spectacle but unionists should have spoken out about the risk

The Democratic Unionist MP for South Belfast, Mrs Little Pengelly said she had spoken to the property manager and he was endeavouring to get the building repaired quickly.

“I will be in regular contact with him to ensure this happens,” she said.

“This building is fully insured and these repairs will happen.”

The politician said that many residents were “worried, upset and fearful” during the bonfire.

“That is wrong and should not happen,” she said.

The Northern Ireland Office yesterday countered speculation that the government could pick up the repair tab.

“The Northern Ireland Office does not operate a bonfire compensation scheme,” said a spokeswoman.

“The issue of bonfires is complex and often involves a number of organisations operating within the devolved administration such as the local council and the respective landowner.

“Where an individual is seeking compensation for damage to property, the specific circumstances of each claim will define the process.”

Belfast City Council said it also did not operate a bonfire compensation scheme.

A spokesman said: “The council works with a range of partner agencies and communities to mitigate the most negative impacts of bonfires.

“However, it has no role in relation to the bonfire itself.”

Firefighters in the Province dealt with 40 bonfire-related incidents – up 21% on last year – on Tuesday night.

They received 213 emergency calls in total and mobilised to 133 incidents overall – a 49% hike on the number in 2016.

Ben Lowry: Bonfires can be a fine spectacle but unionists should have spoken out about the risk