Belfast courthouse set on fire for second night

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The Independent Online

The historic Crumlin Road courthouse in Belfast has been set on fire for the second night running – this time by 30 petrol bombers.

A crowd gathered shortly after midnight yesterday and hurled petrol bombs into the building; which had already been extensively damaged in a suspected arson attack the previous day.

The vast majority of the Grade B listed building's roof had burned away, the fire and rescue service confirmed.

The court building, which was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and opened in 1850, was the scene of many hundreds of terrorist trials through the first three decades of the Troubles.

In March this year another arson attack resulted in the destruction of about 40 per cent of the court building, but its ornate facade was preserved.

After its closure in 1998 developer Barry Gilligan bought the property from the Government for a nominal £1. In 2006 he announced plans to turn the building into a luxury hotel.

Mr Gilligan said he was "shocked and saddened" by the fire.

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