Sinn Féin building gutted in suspected arson attack

May 25, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

A building used by Sinn Féin for meetings in Silverbridge has been gutted in a suspected arson attack.

The portacabin had been sited on the New Line opposite Silverbridge GFC for a number of years and was used primarily for meetings of the local Burns/Moley Sinn Féin cumann.

The Fire and Rescue Service was called to the scene shortly after 1.00am on Thursday to find the building well alight.

It took the crews from Crossmaglen and Newtownhamilton several hours to eventually extinguish the fire.

Memorabilia and artefacts relating to IRA Volunteers Brendan Burns and Brendan Moley, after whom the cumann is named, were also destroyed in the blaze, according to local councillor, Colman Burns.

Mr Burns vehemently condemned the attack and blamed ‘a criminal gang’ with ‘connections to MI5’.

“We believe this cowardly attack was perpetrated by a criminal gang whom we consider has connections to MI5.  This gang was also responsible for recent defacement of both council property and various other premises including the Sinn Féin office in Crossmaglen,” Mr Burns said.

He says the families of Brendan Burns and Brendan Moley are devastated at the loss of photographs and personal mementos.

“Having spoken to the Burns and Moley families, I can say that they are devastated and outraged by what has happened and they consider this attack as an assault on the memories of their loved ones.

“Brendan Burns and Brendan Moley are local republican icons and many of the items destroyed by this fire are irreplaceable, both to their families and to the wider Republican community.  The local Silverbridge cumann, which is named after these two men, has lost its cumann banner, which has been carried the length and breadth of Ireland,” he added.

The councillor accused those responsible of attempting to split the community.

“There are elements of this attack which we believe are an attempt to split the community.  However the recent Westminster election, in which this area voted to re-elect Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy as MP by over 80%, demonstrates that this gang will not succeed,” he said.

“Obviously this latest attack is another failed attempt by this gang to create tension and fear.  As with other attacks on this community over the years, it will not be successful.  This gang must realise that this community is strong and resilient and refuses to be intimidated by thugs.”

Police say they are treating the fire as suspicious and are appealing to anyone who has information to contact them on 0845 600 8000.