Kids kept in class for their own safety

BOMB PANIC HITS SCHOOL

Worried parents arrive on the scene to collect their children during yesterday’s bomb alert, only to find they were being kept in the school for their own safety Worried parents arrive on the scene to collect their children during yesterday’s bomb alert, only to find they were being kept in the school for their own safety
By Ciara Quinn

PANIC erupted yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon in Twinbrook and homes were evacuated after a suspected pipe bomb was found near a local primary school.

Police described the device that led to the evacuation as “viable”. As the PSNI secured the area and evacuated residents from Summerhill Drive,  parents arrived at St Mark’s Primary School, many frantic with worry as they gathered at the cordon only to learn that their children were being kept in the school for their own safety.

One  parent said: “We haven’t heard anything, nothing. All the parents who are here, it’s purely because of word of mouth. The school won’t pick up the phone and though we have parent mail, a text service to our phones,  nothing has been sent to us.”

Another parent said she had come straight out of work when she heard the news because she felt “totally and utterly physically sick with worry”.

“What do you do when you hear something like that? We just want it explained what is going on and to take our children home,” she said.

In between liaising with the PSNI and parents, Sinn Féin Councillor Stephen Magennis called those behind the alert “headcases”.

“At this stage, it is my understanding that this device was found close to a skip not far from the school and if that is the case was it a tactic to lure PSNI in to the area? But I have been told it is a viable device and a large one at that – it is about a foot and a half long.

“To leave something like this so close to a school is just absolute craziness and those behind this must be utterly condemned.”

He added: “Our parents are frantic, word got out that there was a bomb in St Mark’s Primary School and all hell has broken loose, parents are naturally upset and the children are frightened.

“Myself and Jim Gibney from Sinn Féin have been here since the news broke and we have been trying to ease the situation and calm people down and work with the school to put the best measures in place to make sure the children are safe.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that parents and children are  put in this type of danger. The residents who were evacuated have been able to go to family but we will visit them when this area has been made safe.”

Cllr Magennis said those responsible had placed lives of local people in jeopardy.

“If this was an act by these people to drum up support  then they should realise there is no support for them here in this community – they have done nothing but inconvenience this community and no-one wants to go back to the past.”

At mid-afternoon, parents were visibly relieved as their children were at last being released from the school class by class. As we went to press a spokesperson for the PSNI said Summerhill Drive had been closed from the entrance of Creighton’s Road with the junction of Summerhill Road. A number of nearby homes had also been evacuated.

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