27/02/2008

School Head Knocked Out

The police are investigating reports that a secondary school principal was punched in the face and knocked out by a pupil's relative.

Seamus Barnes, Head of St Gabriel's College in north Belfast was attacked last Tuesday morning.

Police and an ambulance crew were called in after Mr Barnes, a teacher for more than 36 years, fell to the ground unconscious.

Mr Barnes, who has been the head teacher at St Gabriel's for the past four years, said he was " disgusted" by the attack and said it raised important issues about the safety of teachers.

He said: "It happened at about 9.15am. Police are dealing with the matter. I can confirm I was assaulted by a person."

Mr Barnes said he remembers very little after the alleged punch but was told he was "out" for a few seconds.

"It was quite a shock. I was very surprised and disgusted with the whole thing. I am not marked, there was no physical damage as such.

A spokesman for the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools said: "The CCMS can confirm that an incident did take place last week at St Gabriel's College, Belfast last week.

"The incident is now the subject of a police investigation and it would be inappropriate for CCMS to comment any further until such times that the PSNI investigation is concluded."

Mr Barnes added: "This is something that shouldn't happen in any school. Schools are places that should be regarded as special and safe.

"It is unfortunate that this sort of a situation was created where there are children.

"What sort of a message is it giving them?"

(BMcC)

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