Attack on Newry primary school is an ‘attack on the entire community’

July 21, 2014

By Christine Keighery

Sinn Féin councillor Charlie Casey has slammed those responsible for inflicting £4,000 worth of damage on St Patrick’s Primary School, The Meadow, describing the mindless vandalism as “an attack on the entire community.”

The vandalism, which took place on the morning of Thursday 17th July, caused damage to 14 of the school’s windows, leaving the school with a repair bill of thousands.

Unfortunately this is not the first time the school has been targeted by vandals.  Last January, the primary was broken into and the office completely ransacked.  Principal Ciaran Mackin told The Examiner at the time that many of the children were clearly disturbed and frightened by the scene they faced in school the morning after the senseless attack.

Speaking after he had surveyed the latest scene of destruction at St Patrick’s, Sinn Fein’s Charlie Casey said,

“I was contacted by school Principal Ciaran Mackin who is naturally devastated that this has taken place.  I visited the school to see the damage for myself and I was horrified at the level of destruction and mindless vandalism which had been carried out.

“Somewhere in the region of 14 windows were broken and some of the stones that were used have damaged window sills as well.  The youths were actually standing on a fence which is church property to lob these rocks at the windows.”

According to Mr Casey, the vandals were spotted by a member of the  local community who contacted the caretaker of the school who lives locally.

“By the time the school caretaker arrived, the pair were making off in the direction of Derrybeg.  The police were contacted and after surveying the scene they recovered some of the rocks and bottles used to break the windows for forensics to examine.”

Mr Casey said witnesses described the two youths as aged around 13 to 14.

“It would be hugely disappointing if it is discovered that the culprits are former pupils of the school. St Patrick’s has a fantastic staff-pupil relationship and does great work with the local community. It is one of the most popular primary schools in Newry city” he said.

“The school had grills covering the windows for years and when Mr Mackin took over as principal he took the initiative to remove the oppressive looking coverings and make the school building more pleasing to the eye for the community. He is committed to the school’s relationship with the community and it’s a shame that this great initiative has suffered such a setback with the damage done to so many windows. This is not just an attack on the school, it is an attack on the entire community.”

“St Patrick’s is a fantastic local school, much loved by the children and parents of the area, it is really depressing to see any deliberate damage being done.”

Mr Casey said it was hugely encouraging that local people acted on what they had witnessed and contacted police and the local caretaker.

“This is testament to the strength of community in this area and I would urge anyone with information to bring it to the PSNI.”