Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 09:18 UK

Man held after Big Wheel climb


The wheel is situated in the grounds of Belfast City Hall

A man has been arrested after he climbed up the 60 metres high Belfast Wheel and balanced on top.

The 38-year-old, who was wearing nothing but shorts, scaled the outside of the wheel on Monday evening.

Trained police negotiators were called in. After two and a half hours, a specialist team of firefighters climbed up and led the man to safety.

The man was a member of the Traveller community who had been involved in a protest at City Hall.

Australian Dave Hamilton was one of five tourists on the wheel at the time.

"I was on the wheel and I noticed a girl running across the ground screaming," he said.

He was going nuts yelling, screaming and banging his head against the post.
Dave Hamilton, eyewitness

"Then I saw the guy climbing to the top of the structure. He was going nuts yelling, screaming and banging his head against the post.

"It was very scary we thought he was going to jump, but he climbed up to the top and then he stayed there."

Roads around the city hall were closed and a large crowd gathered as emergency services arrived at the scene.

Deputy Fire Officer Louis Jones said it had been a "difficult rescue" and that when the crews arrived they had observed the man at "the top of the wheel holding on".

City Hall
Emergency services outside the City Hall

"We deployed our specialist rescue team who are trained to climb structures such as this," he said.

"They climbed up and made contact with the individual.

"Thankfully, it went well, but things like this are so dangerous, they could equally have a tragic ending."

A number of people were trapped inside some of the pods on the wheel during the safety operation.

In May, councillors at Belfast City Hall voted to keep the big wheel on site for two more years.

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