A Derry businessman has praised fire crews who saved his premises from burning to the ground after three containers were torched in an overnight attack, reports Bernie Mullen.
Jonathan McGonagle, owner of North West Textile Recyclers’ ‘Don’t Bin, Cash In’ firm at Springtown Industrial Estate, said he had no idea why his premises were targeted.
Speaking to the ‘Sunday Journal,’ Mr McGonagle said it was still business as usual yesterday after the good work of the Fire and Rescue Service and people who turned out to help him clear up in time to open the unit for customers on Saturday.
Mr McGonagle (35), a native of Moville who has been living in Derry for the past decade, has been running the firm - which makes monthly charitable donations to Letterkenny and Altnagelvin Hospitals from the proceeds - for two years.
He explained: “We closed the shop yesterday (Friday) at 5pm as usual, then at 12.24am the alarm went off in the shed so I got up and went to check it out. I thought maybe it was a false alarm but when I came in the fire brigade and police were there fighting to save the building. I have to hand it to the fire service, they did extremely good work last night.
“I had three trailers parked in the yard with clothes in them. We buy in clothing, shoes, handbags and belts from the general public for 60p per kilo and everybody seems to be happy enough. Every month we give cheque presentations to the Oncology Unit at Letterkenny Hospital and Altnagelvin Hospital.”
Mr McGonagle said Altnagelvin had received £500 each month for the past four or five months, with similar amounts being presented to the cancer ward at Letterkenny.
“As the business grows we are hoping to give them more money generated back into the community. Everybody should be happy but there is obviously somebody that’s not.”
Mr McGonagle said he had no idea why the premises would have been attacked. “I don’t think I have upset anybody,” he said.
He said that fencing around the premises had been cut to gain entry. There is also video surveillance of an intruder.
Mr McGonagle revealed: “It shows a man walking across the yard, opening the back of one of the containers and throwing something in; he lit the trailer and walked away five to ten minutes later as casually as you like, from what I can see.”
The businessman appealed to anyone who can help with enquiries into the attack to contact the police. While damage to the unit was confined to the side of the building, everything in the containers and trailers was totally destroyed, he said.
“It’s a setback but it is not going to put me off. I had friends there last night and people from the community down offering to lend a hand to get me opened up this morning and people are still coming in with their clothes.
“Last night when I saw the flames I thought everything was up, there was just that much smoke I thought this is me ruined but the fire brigade fought to get it out. They were there from after 12 until around 5am.”
Detectives in Foyle are appealing for information in relation to the criminal damage.
A police spokesperson said: “At around 11.30pm on Friday, 25th November, it was reported that three containers containing clothing were set alight. It is believed that the containers, all valued at £10,000 were destroyed during the incident. It is also believed the clothing destroyed was valued at £13,000.” Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Strand Road CID on 0845 600 8000. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”