Fire destroys the debating chamber at the Stormont Parliament Building in Belfast.

Forensic experts are now trying to establish the cause of the outbreak which has caused several hundred thousand pounds worth of damage.

The smoke could be seen several miles away as eighteen fire appliances attempted to tackle the blaze in one of Northern Ireland's landmarks.

A fire brigade crew had to cut through the main entrance gates to the Stormont estate which had been closed for the holidays. The former parliament building still houses some civil service offices and it was also the location for recent exploratory talks between the British government and Sinn Féin. The rooms in the west wing and the library were not damaged but the old commons chamber used for meetings of the former parliament was gutted. 

Kenneth McNeill, Chief Fire Officer, describes the extent of the damage but says that the main structure of the building is still intact. 

The building, which had been undergoing refurbishment at a cost of up to three million pounds, holds great symbolic importance for unionists.

Rev Ian Paisley MP says that he has been told by police that the fire is being treated as malicious. However, Michael Moss MP strongly refutes this claim saying that there is no indication that the fire was in any way malicious at this point in time. Michael Moss is confident that the political talks process would not be affected and that the debating chamber could be rebuilt in time. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 January 1995. The reporter is Michael Fisher.