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Man held as fire damages church

A MAN in his 50s has been arrested in connection with a fire at a historic 18th century church.

A massive plume of smoke descended on to Meath Street in the Liberties area of Dublin yesterday when a substantial fire broke out at St Catherine's church.

The building was extensively damaged in the blaze, which took several units of Dublin City Fire Brigade to bring under control. The fire broke out at about 4.45pm.

Meath Street was closed between Thomas Street and Dean Street while the scene was examined and as firefighters fought to put out the blaze.

Four water tenders and an aerial ladder were deployed by Dublin Fire Brigade to bring the blaze under control.

A number of garda units also attended the scene.

The man who was arrested in connection with the fire was being held at Kevin Street garda station last night.

"One man in his 50s was arrested at the scene and taken to Kevin Street garda station for questioning under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act," a garda source said. "Investigations are ongoing."

A priest at the church said it was open to the public at the time of the fire but thankfully nobody was injured.

Parish priest Fr Niall Coghlan said he hoped the church would be repairable.

"We haven't been able to get in to it because it is subject to a Garda investigation, but we saw bits and pieces with a torch and it's quite badly damaged," he said.

"I'm not a builder and I'm not an electrician but I think its repairable."

Fr Coghlan said he was not yet sure how the blaze broke out.

"I was just told the church was on fire," he said. "People on the street called the fire brigade and gardai. "We won't know how bad it is until the gardai hand it over and the insurance assessors get in to it."

Irish Independent