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Northern Ireland school visits London despite terrorist attacks

By Claire Williamson

A Northern Ireland primary school trip to London has gone ahead after an emergency meeting was held the day after the deadly terror attack in the capital.

Parents of primary seven pupils at St Francis' Primary School in Lurgan met on Sunday following the harrowing attack in which eight people died and a further 48 were injured. The three terrorists were shot dead within eight minutes of the first police call-out.

The school reassured parents ahead of the trip on Monday, with 70 pupils and eight teachers travelling to London, that a number of safety precautions had been put in place.

The school said that at no point would the children be using public transport nor having to walk to any of the venues on the trip. A number of Whatsapp groups were also set up so the school, parents and children could keep up-to-date with where they were and what they were doing on their trip.

Originally, 80 pupils were signed up for the trip, but after the Manchester tragedy at the Ariana Grande concert in May, seven withdrew, which principal Anthony McMorrow said was "understandable".

Following the London attack a further three pulled out.

Mr McMorrow said: "Our major concern was how parents would react. When something like that happens the night before, I was concerned about what they might feel about London and safety so we called an emergency meeting of parents at 1pm on Sunday. We came and spoke to them and the eight staff members were still willing to go. That was reassuring for parents.

"I told them how we would have our own coach from each venue in the itinerary - and there was one walking element slotted into the second day and we took that out."

Once the reassurances had been given by the school, parents decided whether they still wanted their child to go on the trip - at that point, the parents of three children opted out.

Mr McMorrow said: "So 70 in total went to London and they've had a ball.

"They went to Thorpe Park, Madame Tussauds, they saw The Lion King in the West End, went on The London Eye, visited the Natural History Museum - they have been extremely busy."

Mr McMorrow said it wasn't a question of "defiance" in the face of terrorism about the trip - rather it was making sure the decision was taken by the parents.

He said: "It was simply a matter of wanting to ensure the decision was theirs and theirs solely as to whether they went ahead."

He added: "The children were still keen. One of our P7 boys said to his mum if there is a vote 'Put both hands up'."

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