Fire fails to halt PA's Belfast bureau

PA kept its Northern Irish service running despite a fire destroying its Belfast city centre bureau last week.

A disaster contingency plan and a helping hand from newspapers in the city kept PA in action.

Police alerted PA’s Ireland editor Deric Henderson at 3am while on holiday in Spain. “Very soon afterwards we had calls from our customers, The Belfast Telegraph, the News Letter , the Irish News, and The Irish Mirror offering temporary accommodation for our staff,” said Henderson.

It took fire crews five hours to bring the blaze under control.

Subbing of The Press Association’s Irish file switched to its operation centres in London and East Yorkshire while Ireland sub-editor Joe Kearney re-located from Belfast to Dublin.

PA’s Belfast reporters later established temporary accommodation at The Belfast Telegraph while listings staff took up temporary desks at the News Letter.

“We’re indebted to our customers and appreciate all the offers of support from individual journalists and businesses in the city,” said Henderson.

“We’ve lost an office, and some files, but thankfully no one was injured. The recovery operation was what everyone expects from PA, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Tony Watson, editorial director of PA, said: “This incident shows the importance of disaster recovery planning, and is testament to the PA’s investment in the resilience of its services.

“Our operations centres are equipped to ensure that services can be transferred from one location to another, safeguarding effective delivery should the need arise”

By Jon Slattery

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