School break-ins an “attack on children”

January 21, 2013

By Christine Keighery

The ransacking of two local primary schools last week has been met with widespread disgust, with the Principals of both schools condemning the acts as a “violation” and “an attack on children.”

St. Patrick’s Primary School in The Meadow in Newry and St. Malachy’s Primary School in Whitecross fell victim to the mindless attacks which took place overnight last Tuesday 15th January.

Entry was forced into both schools and the main offices completely ransacked, presumably in a search for cash or valuables.  The perpetrators left empty handed as all schools are now cash free environments, but not before causing serious damage to the premises.

Principal of St Malachy’s, Bernard Kennedy, described the attack as a “violation” of the safety children associate with their school.

“Children find this very intrusive” he said, “They regard their school as a place of great safety, where they’re looked after and cared for, so incidents like this are a terrible violation of that security. It’s very upsetting for them.”

In addition to highlighting the unnecessary inconvenience for staff and pupils during the repair of such vandalism, Mr Kennedy strongly advised all schools to ensure they do not keep cash on site.

His sentiments were closely echoed by Ciaran Mackin, Principal of St Patrick’s Primary School in Newry, who said the attack on his school was “a wanton act of vandalism” as St Patrick’s is also a cash free site due to improved accounting procedures.

Mr Mackin slammed those responsible for carrying out what he called, “an attack on children” adding,

“This is not a victimless crime. Ultimately it is a crime against children, they are the ones who suffer. It was quite shocking to see the number of children who were clearly disturbed and frightened by the scene they faced in their school on Wednesday morning, a place they regard as a safe environment.”

The Principal thanked the local community for their support and said the school had been heartened by the messages of goodwill they had received in the wake of the incident.

Sinn Fein councillor Charlie Casey also expressed his anger at the attack, branding it “an attack on the whole community” which had done nothing but cause inconvenience for pupils and staff and brought extra costs to the school who now had to find the money for repairs from their limited budget.

“Nothing was stolen from the school, as all schools are now cash free environments. This was a mindless attack; I would urge anyone who has any information in relation to the incident to pass it on to the police immediately.”

Police in Newry have appealed for anyone with information in relation to the incidents to contact them in Ardmore on 0845 600 8000.