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Man held over sectarian brick attack on kids at Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill’s old school

By Nevin Farrell

Published 02/06/2016

St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena
St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena

An arrest was made after police were called following an attack on children attending a school sports day.

Hundreds of pupils at St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena were taking part in the annual event at Cullybackey Road when bricks were lobbed over a fence from a nearby housing area and sectarian abuse was shouted.

It is understood nobody was hit by the missiles, but there was an unconfirmed report a teacher was nearly struck.

Frightened pupils were taken to safety and the sports day was temporarily suspended as police were called.

A police car was seen leaving the grounds of the school yesterday.

The sports day resumed in the afternoon, but the incident caused concern for parents.

St Louis is one of the top post-primaries in Northern Ireland, and is the former school of Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. The PSNI said: "A 40-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and disorderly behaviour following an incident at a school in the Cullybackey Road area of Ballymena on the morning of June 1.

"The man is currently in custody assisting police with their enquiries."

St Louis vice-principal Gerard Whiteford said the school did not wish to comment about the incident.

It is understood the attack originated from the Carndale Meadows area, which runs beside the school.

One report suggested at least three adult males were involved in the missile-throwing.

A parent said they had been told what happened by their distressed child.

The parent, who did not wish to be named, said: "It was a disgrace what happened.

"It was such a super day weather-wise for sports day and all of a sudden there was shouting from the direction of a housing area nearby. I could not repeat some of the words which my child said were shouted, but they included remarks which seemed to be based on the scandals involving the Catholic Church, and also the word 'murderers' was shouted.

"A number of bricks were thrown over a fence and one nearly hit a teacher but there were no reports of any injuries thankfully.

"Pupils could hear all this stuff being shouted.

"However, police were called and the sports day was called off until the situation calmed down.

"Pupils were taken to safety inside the assembly hall, but thankfully the sports day was able to resume a short time later."

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