Second arson attack on school inside four months…
By Maurice Garvey
VANDALS set fire to St Ultans National School in Cherry Orchard – causing thousands of euro worth of damage and putting a counselling room out of commission.
It is the second arson attack on the school in little over four months, after extensive damage was caused to a new €400,000 extension last April.
The latest attack occurred just as staff were busy preparing for the first day of school this week, and represents another sickening blow for the community.
Assessors have yet to put a figure on the damage, but it is understood to be in the region of €8,000.
Fortunately, staff are able to welcome students back to school today (Thursday).
Youths gained access to a part of the school, due to construction works which are taking place to build a new Autism Spectrum Disorder extension at the Cherry Orchard campus.
The plans include a single-storey extension and a three-classroom ASD unit, but this has opened up access to an area previously blocked off to the public.
Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan visited the school this week, and applauded staff for ensuring the school opened as normal.
Cllr Doolan said: “This fire should never have happened. It was an attack on the whole community. I visited the school and was shocked at the damage. It was unacceptable and inexcusable. While the damage is regrettable, it could have been a whole lot worse. We are lucky no one was seriously injured or worse.”
He continued: “I must congratulate staff, the fire brigade and the gardaí for their speedy response to this incident. I would appeal to those involved to stop and think. This was an attack on a school that serves the whole community. The counselling room provided an essential service to pupils from Cherry Orchard.
“We must all work together to ensure this does not happen again. Cherry Orchard is a great community and deserves better that this.”
In April, youths set fire to furniture at a hangout spot behind the school building – damaging the structure of an extension and caused major disruption, with staff unable to turn on the lights when they arrived on Monday morning
Staff praised the “quick-thinking actions” of local residents, who ensured Dublin Fire Brigade were at the scene within 10 minutes.
St Ultans did not respond to The Echo at the time of going to print.
Ballyfermot Gardai are investigating the arson attack – anyone with information can call them at 6667200.
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