Primark fire: cordon around Bank Buildings in Belfast to stay ‘for some time’

The hollowed out shell of the former Bank Buildings in Belfast
The hollowed out shell of the former Bank Buildings in Belfast

A former Lord Mayor of Belfast has warned that it “could be some time” before a safety cordon introduced following last week’s fire at Primark is removed.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers said that while Belfast City Council would “leave no stone unturned” to help businesses forced to close by the blaze, he warned that “health and safety is of paramount importance”.

The fire at the former Bank Buildings on Castle Street, home to clothing retailer Primark, started on Tuesday morning and quickly destroyed the building.

Only the exterior of the building remains intact, and concerns had been raised that it could crumble entirely.

While those fears have been since been allayed to some extent, the building has yet to be declared safe enough for a safety cordon to be removed.

There are a number of businesses within the cordon that have been forced to close.

Speaking to the News Letter yesterday, Councillor Rodgers said: “We (Belfast City Council) want to work not just with Primark, but with all the other businesses who have been unable to open and are obviously now suffering from a lack of trade.

“Our officers will continue to engage with these people and hopefully try and assist them in any way possible. We want everybody to rally around but we will leave no stone unturned as we try and get things back to normal.

“ We know it’s going to take time and the likelihood is that that cordon could be there for some time. Health and safety is of paramount importance.”

He added: “You simply can’t open a road knowing that a building could collapse.”

The fire service was unable to provide an update on its investigation into the causes of the fire yesterday.