Council urged to act over historic mill fire

Derek Hussey, UUP, Derry City & Strabane District Council
Derek Hussey, UUP, Derry City & Strabane District Council

A Derry & Strabane Councillor has warned that lives are being put at risk by continued acts of anti-social behaviour at Herdman’s Mill in Sion Mills.

UUP Councillor Dererk Hussey was speaking after the PSNI said that a fire at the historic County Tyrone site on Wednesday was caused deliberately.

Speaking at Thursday’s Health and Community Committee meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Mr Hussey said: “Council may not have a direct responsibility for the mill, but we have to take responsibility.

“This anti-social behaviour and criminal damage is causing trauma to the entire village.

“Lives are being put at risk,” he said.

A fire at Herdman’s Mill in Sion Mills was started deliberately, police have said.

In the latest in a series of deliberate fires at the Mill, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service crews were called to the Mill shortly before 8pm on Wednesday past.

The PSNI has appealed for witnesses to come forward.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police are investigating after the old Herdsman’s Mill in Sion Mills was targeted by arsonists.

“The blaze is believed to have been started deliberately and officers are appealing for witnesses to get in touch.”

Strabane woman Margaret Loughrey bought the mill after she won almost £27m in the Euromillions jackpot in December 2013.

It is understood she paid £1m for the site, which was had previously been owned for over 170 years by the Herdman family.

The mill, which once employed more than 1,000 staff, ceased spinning linen in 2004 and the company that owned the mill went into receivership in 2011.

There have been a number of different proposal to develop the building to date.