Monday 24 September 2018

'Gut-wrenching' scenes in aftermath of Donabate blaze

John Manning

Two businesses in Donabate are picking up the pieces this week and counting the cost of what may have been a Halloween prank gone tragically wrong as a pharmacy and hair salon were gutted by fire.

Donabate Pharmacy was lost in the blaze and Styles Hair and Beauty Salon next door was badly damaged.

The tight-knit community on the peninsula has gathered round in support of the two businesses and even set up a gofundme page to help get them back on their feet.

Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF) reported that Styles Hair and Beauty Salon 'should be back open for business soon' but said the pharmacy had been 'destroyed' by the fire.

Cllr Henchy has spoken to investigating officers looking into the case and he reported: 'Unfortunately, it now appears it was not started accidentally or as a result of an electrical fault and the Garda are treating it as a criminal investigation.'

After visiting the scene of the blaze the morning after the fire, Cllr Henchy said: 'I visited the scene this evening and on a human level my heart goes out to Nuala MacCinna and her staff at Donabate Pharmacy. To witness them going through the wreckage of their beloved business trying to salvage important paperwork and other important materials was truly gut-wrenching.

'For Nuala, and Nikki, from Styles Hair and Beauty salon together with the Higgins family who own the buildings to receive a phone call in the dead of night and then to arrive at their business and property and find it up in flames because of reckless vandalism is absolutely beyond words - it is truly shocking.'

Appealing for the public's help in tracking down those responsible for the fire, Cllr Henchy added: 'Gardaí under Inspector Olivier Woods in Swords are treating this incident very seriously and are very anxious to talk to anyone who may have been near Donabate Cemetery, The Priory Housing Estate and all surrounding areas in close proximity to Donabate Pharmacy between the hours of 11.30pm and 1am on the night of the fire (Sunday, October 29).

'Anyone who may have a dash-cam in their car or anyone living near Donabate Pharmacy from any direction who may have CCTV outside their property are been asked to check the footage between 11.30pm to 1am and report any movements to Gardai in Swords- this may prove invaluable in the investigation.

'I am also calling for any parents whose children may have been out late last night around the village and who may have any information on any aspects of this serious incident to also contact Swords Garda Station where your call will be treated in the strictest of confidence.'

Cllr Henchy said: 'Earliest possible help and cooperation with this investigation will be invaluable to the Gardaí. It is also highly likely that this incident will have been discussed on Social Media Platforms such as SnapChat and if parents could talk to their children to see, if their child is aware of any information in relation to the fire through social media and if so I ask parents to bring this information to An Garda Siochana. The Gardaí, have also asked that if any parents whose children were on sleepovers on the night in question, with their friends, to check in with the parents of those they were staying with to ensure the sleepover went ok.'

Cllr Henchy concluded: 'Finally, in the midst of devastating scenes witnessing exhausted Nuala McCinna and her staff trying to salvage and recover some invaluable items from her business you also see first-hand humanity at its best. To see the Higgins Family and their Staff working flat out on a Bank Holiday Monday to ensure the building was safe and secure.

'To also witness the Gardaí leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the perpetrators of this crime will be held to account. This greatly reassures me that our community working in cooperation with An Garda Siochana will ensure this crime gets resolved. This was a very dark day for our community with the devastating criminal damage to a much loved local business but I am sure, I, like everyone else from Donabate, Portrane utterly condemn the grossly irresponsible actions of a tiny percentage of local mindless vandals.'

Fingal Independent