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Pupils praised as school is evacuated during bomb alert

By Chris McCullough

Published 28/05/2016

Staff and pupils are evacuated at Kilmaine Primary School, Bangor
Staff and pupils are evacuated at Kilmaine Primary School, Bangor
Principal Billy Campbell

Young children evacuated from a primary school in Bangor have been praised by their principal and school staff.

Around 670 pupils from the age of three up to 11 at Kilmaine Primary School in Bangor were forced to leave the school yesterday morning before 11am.

The County Down school was one of four in Northern Ireland that received malicious telephone warnings indicating there was a bomb on the premises.

The other three schools were Omagh County Primary, Campsie; Armstrong Primary, Armagh and SureStart, Doury Road, Ballymena.

Billy Campbell, the principal of Kilmaine Primary School, has been in the post since October 2015.

He questioned what possible good this sort of action does in "disrupting the schooling of wee ones".

Mr Campbell said: "I was in the middle of interviewing some teachers for jobs at the school when we received the warning.

"I immediately took the decision to evacuate the school as we were taking no chances.

"As we were aware of this type of behaviour at other schools earlier in the week, we had a plan in place if it were to happen here.

"In total, we had 620 children aged four to 11 evacuated from the main school and 52 kids aged three from our two nurseries.

"It took us about 10 minutes to get them and the 40 staff outside. I must praise the children for their good behaviour in leaving the school.

"I can't think what possible good this type of action does. It only disrupts the schooling of the wee ones."

North Down Ulster Unionist MLA, Alan Chambers, said: "I have four grandchildren attending Kilmaine and upon hearing the news I went to the school and saw for myself the disruption caused.

"I witnessed the professional manner in which the teachers and staff conducted themselves as they implemented the evacuation plan and moved 600 pupils away from the school to a place of safety.

"Fortunately the pupils seemed to be taking events very much in their stride and did not seem to be distressed in any way. Luckily it was a mild morning weather wise, because things could have been very different had this happened in the depths of winter.

"It was clear that the parents and grandparents who arrived to collect their children were upset at what had happened.

"I simply cannot conceive of the mentality of anyone who would target young children in his manner. The number of alerts that have been received this week indicate a degree of sophistication and organisation. It is imperative that the police act swiftly to catch whoever is responsible for this disruption and ensure that they are severely punished by the courts." PSNI Chief Superintendent Garry Eaton said: "We are investigating a further series of malicious communications to schools across Northern Ireland. At this stage there is no information to suggest the incidents are terrorist-related, however enquiries continue to establish the facts."

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