POLICE are investigating an arson attack which caused substantial damage to an historic mill premises.
On Wednesday at around 7.45pm, the old Herdman’s Mill in Sion Mills was targeted by arsonists for the fifth time in four years. Extensive damage was caused before the blaze was extinguished by fire-fighters.
The incident comes less than a week after Sion Mills Cricket Club was also targeted by arsonists.
Community activist Andy Patton denounced the attack on the historic building, which is currently owned by Euromillions winner Margaret Loughrey, as a ‘truly disgusting act’.
“The whole village has been unnerved by this truly disgusting act,” he said. “Whoever did it is the lowest of the low, and this incident reiterates the needs to get a use for the building or to get proper security for the mill to stop youngsters getting into the premises.
“This is the fifth incident in four years and clearly it is a copycat thing. The building has been left in a very dangerous state and honestly, my biggest fear is for the safety of youths congregating there.
“We are going to have to find who is doing this. This dangerous trend simply cannot continue.”
Castlederg Ulster Unionist councillor Derek Hussey is also conscious that lives are being put at risk by the spate of arson attacks in the village.
“Police have said the fire was caused deliberately,” Cllr Hussey told a health and community committee meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council on Thursday.
“Council may not have a direct responsibility for the mill, but we have to take responsibility.
“This antisocial behaviour and criminal damage is causing trauma to the entire village. Lives are being put at risk.”
Strabane woman Margaret Loughrey bought the mill after she won almost £27m in the Euromillions jackpot in December 2013.
Anyone who witnessed the blaze is asked to get in touch with police by calling 101, quoting reference 1168 16/05/18.