Belfast Telegraph

Man arrested after bricks thrown at children at Ballymena school sports day

By Nevin Farrell

A man has been arrested after bricks were thrown into the grounds of a Ballymena school on Wednesday during the school sports day.

Hundreds of children at St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena - one of the top post-primary schools in Northern Ireland - were taking part in their annual sports event at Cullybackey Road when bricks were lobbed over a fence from a nearby housing area and vulgar abuse was shouted.

It is understood all pupils were safe and nobody was hit by the missiles but there was an unconfirmed report a teacher was nearly struck with a brick.

St Louis is the former school of Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

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

A police car was seen leaving the grounds of the school on Wednesday afternoon.

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

A PSNI spokeswoman said on Wednesday afternoon: "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 Wednesday 1 June. The man is currently in custody assisting police with their enquiries."

St Louis Principal Sean Rafferty was not present at school on Wednesday but Vice-Principal Gerard Whiteford said the school did not wish to comment.

A source confirmed the police were informed by the school.

The sports day resumed in the afternoon. It was being held in a sports field beside St Colmcille's Primary School which shares the site with St Louis.

It is understood the attack originated from the area of houses at Carndale Meadows which runs beside the school and one report said at least three adult males were present.

A parent of a school pupil said they were informed of 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, the police were called and the sports day was called off until the situation calmed down.

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

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