AN early-morning attack in which a digger seriously damaged a busy filling station has left the community in Blacklion and Belcoo ‘angry’ and ‘frustrated’. Over 100,000 litres of fuel could have exploded in the attack on a filling station in Blacklion on Thursday, March 6. The attack has left the border village without a shop, filling station and post office.
A Garda spokesman told the Herald that at around 2.40am on Thursday morning a digger was removed from roadworks a short distance away and was then used to damage the premises, which has been in receivership for over 12 months. The front part of the store was ‘extensively damaged’ by the Hymac digger and three of the petrol/diesel pumps were knocked over.
The Herald understands this is the latest in a long standing campaign of intimidation and violence directed at the premises, with reports of slashed tyres at the location recently.
One local person said they were ‘lucky the place didn’t blow up’. The shop is now ‘shut indefinitely’ due to the ‘substantial structural damage’ to the front of the shop and fuel pumps.
Ena McGinley, involved in Kilinagh Community Council said everyone was ‘very, very angry’ about the attack. “Everybody is totally against this type of behaviour. There is no shop now in Blacklion, no petrol station, no lottery, no post office, you can’t even buy a newspaper or a bag of crisps or can of coke if a child wanted it.
“Old age pensioners can’t collect their pension and they have to travel to Glenfarne, which is a fair distance for people who don’t have transport. I know quite a few hadn’t collected their pension because of this as they had no way of getting to Glenfarne. I just hope they have got it now.”
She continued: “It is a big loss as if people have to go to get things like their pension or do a bit of business in the post office they will go to the next town. And when they are there they are going to buy their groceries, go to the butchers and get their meat, they are not going to drive back to Blacklion. Business will certainly be affected, sure the only thing we have now is the butcher’s shop!
“It is a disgrace, everybody is thinking the same way, it is very wrong. Nobody knows what these people are thinking, they are only wrecking their own village.”
Blacklion Fianna Fail county councillor John Paul Feeley visited the filling station on the day of the attack and explained the feeling in the area.
“As you can imagine there was a massive amount of anger and frustration, not just among customers, but staff also. There are 11 jobs at the shop including full-time, part-time and the two who work in the post office.
“People in the community have been left without basic services, but we are working to ease the problems and get the post office back in business in the shortest possible time frame.
“This lawless behaviour can not and will not be tolerated.
“There was a huge amount of damage done and there probably would have been more, but for the fact the person that did it damaged the digger in the process and stopped it working. I was informed that one of the oil pipelines became disconnected. People were quite lucky as there are very substantial fuel tanks underneath the pumps. There are two tanks that hold 40,000 litres and two that hold 12,000. Imagine if they went off.”
Gardai investigations are ongoing and at present forensics and CCTV footage are being examined to determine the culprits. Anyone saw anything suspicious or was in the area between 2am – 3am on Thursday March 6 or has any information to help with enquiries is asked to contact Ballyconnell Gardai on 00353499536102.
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