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Firestarter Gardai hunt serial arsonist after 15 fires at National Children’s Hospital site in Dublin

The first fire was reported last Wednesday, but matters escalated quickly when seven fires occurred last Thursday.

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Handout artist impression of the proposed National Children’s Hospital (National Children’s Hospital/PA)

Handout artist impression of the proposed National Children’s Hospital (National Children’s Hospital/PA)

Handout artist impression of the proposed National Children’s Hospital (National Children’s Hospital/PA)

Residents living near the National Children’s Hospital project in Dublin have been left shocked and dismayed after a series of fire attacks on the site in the space of just one week. 

Gardai are investigating a spate of 15 fires that were first reported last Wednesday, but matters escalated quickly when seven fires occurred last Thursday.

Fires were also reported on Friday and Saturday, last week, as well as Monday and Tuesday this week.

In one incident a plastic bollard was set on fire and thrown down a lift shaft.

Cllr Tina MacVeigh, who lives in the area, said any attack, “whether it's on the hospital site or a local park or playground” was of concern to the community.

“This is a major public health facility that that is being built so I'm very, very shocked and disappointed to hear that it would be targeted like this,” Cllr McVeigh said.

“It's at a major stage now and there have already been a series of delays from Covid, and a variety of other issues. But the idea that that anybody would deliberately attack a project like this is so sinister.

“All of the other debates aside, whether it's the right location and the impact on local residents, and the cost overruns, attacking a major public health infrastructure project is really just not on.”

Cllr MacVeigh said that some residents were always opposed to the project while some welcomed the hospital but were anxious about the impact it was going to have during the construction phase.

“So it still continues to be a major issue. But these latest incidents have to be completely separated out from the day-to-day reality of the construction site and the efforts that have been made to manage that impact.

“As a resident living in the area and from talking to other residents, we feel that any part of our community that is subject to an arson attack is of concern. As a community we want the matter dealt with.”

Another local councillor, Marie Devine, added that the recent incidents were “alarming” and “causing trepidation” among residents.

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“The site is metres away from homes that have long been impacted by the construction of the hospital ,” Cllr Devine said.

“And now, with 15 fires set by an arsonist the sense of anxiety has increased.

“As a local and member of the Residents’ Monitoring Committee, I will be liaising with the investigating gardai, the National Children’s Hospital Board and contactors BAM.

“Workers and locals are on alert and will report any suspicious activity immediately.”

Security at the site is strict, leading to suspicions that somebody with legitimate access to the area may be behind the fires.

No injuries have been reported, and no arrests have been made, but some of the fires have been large and have forced work to be temporarily stopped and the site evacuated.

There are around 1,500 construction workers working at the site at any one time in what is one of the biggest building projects undertaken by the State in recent years.

Gardai confirmed they are investigating and the probe is being led by Kilmainham station.

Investigations are ongoing.

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