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Plaque thought stolen from daily’s old office returned to rival newspaper

A plaque believed to have been stolen from a daily’s former office has been recovered after being returned to another newspaper in the same city.

The plaque remembering the Belfast Blitz was taken from the former Belfast Telegraph building less than two weeks after the 80th anniversary of the event was commemorated.

But it is now safe again after being handed into the Irish News at the request of a man who said he had found it.

For most of their history, the Bel Tel, Belfast News Letter and Irish News were neighbours in the Donegal Street and Royal Avenue area of the city centre, and all managed to survive the World War Two blitz.

Andrew Garrett with the plaque

Andrew Garrett with the plaque

The plaque beside the Telegraph’s entrance commemorated the event, recalling the Bel Tel was “published without interruption”, and remained in place when the paper moved to a new dockside office in 2016.

The missing panel was left at the Maverick bar, whose manager Andrew Garrett told the News: “An older man came in and asked for a table. We seated him and got him his drink.

“As he was leaving, he called me over and mumbled something about the plaque and said he found it at the bottom of the Shankill Road.

“He set it down, asked us to bring it over to The Irish News for him, and he then left. He said he didn’t want a reward or acknowledgement, he just wanted it to be returned.”

The News, which carried a number of appeals for the item’s return, will now pass the plaque on to Bel Tel LLP, which owns the building from which it was taken.

A Bel Tel LLP spokesman told the News: “The plaque is an important recognition of all those who lost their lives at that difficult time and we are looking forward to it being restored to its rightful place on one of the city’s most iconic buildings.”