Anger after fire threatens club house

The remains of the portable building at Nelson Street (photo by Al Creighton).  INCT06-736-CON
The remains of the portable building at Nelson Street (photo by Al Creighton). INCT06-736-CON

Members of a Carrickfergus boxing club have expressed anger after their base was damaged in a suspected arson attack.

The blaze saw two portable buildings burned down last Tuesday afternoon in what PSNI have indicated may have been a ‘deliberate’ incident.

The cabins, which were completely destroyed, are only metres from a hall used by members of Castle Boxing Club.

Police are currently investigating the incident, which also caused scorch damage and cracked windows at the building.

Both the hall and the portable buildings are part of a single site, thought to belong to the Eleanor McKee Memorial Trust.

Speaking to the Times last week, Castle Boxing Club’s John Neill said: “The cabins are just three or four metres behind the hall we use.

“They were set on fire back in June and there had been a bit of floor damage caused then, but they were completely destroyed this time around.

“There were kids who are members ringing on Tuesday to check the that nothing had happened to the hall.”

Castle Boxing Club moved to the Nelson Street premises at the beginning of last year.

The cross-community group boasts a healthy number of both male and female members of all ages.

“As a club, we are funded by the Carrickfergus Policing and Community Safety Partnership and we’re doing a lot to take kids off the street, tackle anti-social behaviour and get them involved in sport,” John said.

“We’re trying to do good work so we’re just angry that someone would come along and do this.

“If the wind had been blowing the fire the other way, the damage to the club might have been even worse.”

Despite the incident, it was business as usual for members on Tuesday evening. “We’ve championships coming up, so we had members in training at 6 o’clock, even with police and crime scene investigators still outside,” added John.

“We also recently received almost £40,000 of funding from Sport NI recently for refurbishment.”

Meanwhile, police are currently appealing for witnesses to the fire, which is believed to have spread to adjacent outbuildings, a garden shed and a fence.

T/Supt Stephen Reid said: “Police believe this fire was deliberate and are appealing for anyone with information to contact the PSNI non-emergency number 101.

“Or, if someone would like to pass information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”