Advice service open despite arson attack

Published Monday, 14 July 2014
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A Citizens Advice Bureau in Rathcoole, Newtownabbey has been able to open on Monday despite arsonists causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to the community centre where it is based.

A gang carried out the petrol bomb attack on the Dunanney centre at around 1am on Saturday - those who run the facility say it was the second incident at the building in three months.

A number of stones were also thrown and a number of windows were smashed in the attack.

Speaking to UTV on Monday, Pat Hutchinson, who is the chair of the Dunanney Centre said "it beggars belief that a centre that is the heart of the community would be attacked in any way".

Around 200 people use the facilities provided there every day, making it one of the busiest bureaus in Northern Ireland.

Ms Hutchinson said the advice service received 33,000 enquiries last year, helped clients recover £5.2m in unclaimed benefits as well as manage debts totalling millions.

"This is absolutely crucial and it is the first port of call for anybody in trouble, within this whole area. Leave us alone and let us do the job that we are good at, helping the local community when they are in need."

Ms Hutchinson added: "We are not able to use the top half with the building, what we've done is squashed people down into the main office, the mess and expense of clearing all of this up - the stress is enormous."

Vicki Moore, centre manager, added that the damage has been very disruptive for those working there.

She said: "It affects us as an organisation, it obviously it makes is unsettled, it affects our ability to deliver the services just on a practical level because the building is our main presence within the community."

Police have reissued their appeal for anyone with information to contact them.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
con in hellfast wrote (201 days ago):
this is what happens when you upset the local 'boys' with cross communiy ventures and excluding them from the finances. This county needs help! being held to ransom from top to bottom by extortionist gangs hiding behind a guise of protecting culture, i wonder would they flag off and leave us in peace, maybe they want a paramilitary benefit and pension to supplement their dole.
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