12/06/2002

Primary school attack blamed on loyalist mob

A petrol bomb attack on a primary school in south Belfast last night was orchestrated by a loyalist mob bent on destruction an SDLP assembly member has said.

A classroom at the Catholic Holy Rosary School at Sunnyside Crescent suffered severe smoke and water damage when three petrol bombs were hurled through a classroom window shortly after midnight.

A further four classrooms had their windows smashed.

The fire service said on arrival they found a fire in one of the classrooms at the rear of the building. There was also small amount of smoke damage to the rest of the building.

South Belfast SDLP assembly member Alasdair McDonnell, who visited the school this morning, said the attack was “disastrous”.

"There were 35 or 40 loyalists, UDA types, roaming through the Ballynafeigh area and it was only a matter of time until they focused on somebody or something," he said.

“This was a pure naked sectarian attack led by a loyalist-UDA leaderless mob who are destructive nonetheless.”

The only way, Mr McDonnell added, for the police to handle such mobs was act aggressively and employ a zero-tolerance attitude.

South Belfast Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael McGimpsey described the incident as “abhorrent”.

“Children, who are among the most vulnerable members of our society, have the right to receive an education in complete safety.

“Pupils look to their places of education as a haven of normality. Sadly we are beginning to see an increasing number of attacks on places of education in our community and this trend is totally unacceptable.”

Monica Williams of the Women's Coalition said that the attack on the school was an affront to the whole community and appealed for everyone "to work to guarantee the right of young children to be educated in safety and in peace".

(AMcE)

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