Primark fire: Fenced-off area in Belfast city centre is reduced

The fenced-off area around Primark in Belfast has been further reduced as the operation to save the historic Bank Buildings, which were reduced to a shell by last week’s fire, continues.

A more robust barrier preventing entry to the area immediately surrounding the Primark store has replaced the tape cordon, with around a dozen neighbouring businesses still closed as a consequence of the safety operation following the blaze.

The fire at Primark last Tuesday

The fire at Primark last Tuesday

They include McDonald’s, Zara, Skechers, Aldo, Tesco Metro and City Picnic, whose owner Arthur McAnerney told the Belfast Telegraph that staff could miss out on pay because the shop has no income.

Mr McAnerney is reported to have said: “There’s 18 wages on the line and since the fire happened, we’ve had no income.

“We’ve got £15,000 per month of wages due to be paid and there’s no money to pay them.”

A number of meetings organised by Belfast City Council have been taking place to provide information and support to businesses owners.

However, when asked by the News Letter, the council was unable to provide any updates on the operation to save the listed front half of the building, which has been reduced to a facade.

In an earlier statement, Belfast City Council said making the building and surrounding area safe remains a “key priority”.

A spokesperson for Primark said: “We are working closely with our team in Belfast to ensure they are supported during this challenging period and we will provide a full update in due course.”

Meanwhile USDAW, the union representing Primark workers, said Primark has agreed to pay its workers for a second week.