Belfast Telegraph

Outrage as pupils are evacuated in bomb alert at primary school

By Rebecca Black

Parents have spoken out in fury after a hoax bomb phone call led to hundreds of children having to be evacuated from their school.

Terror struck one of Lisburn's largest primary schools yesterday morning after a person telephoned claiming three devices had been placed in the school grounds.

More than 600 children and 50 staff at Pond Park Primary School were locked inside yesterday morning as police searched the grounds.

When it was deemed to be safe they were then evacuated to nearby Laurel Hill Community College.

Shortly after 2pm, the school announced that the security alert had been a hoax.

Mother Alica Sangan said she "was shook up" when she received a text message telling her about the alert.

"When I got to the school my kids were worried and hadn't a clue what was going on," she said.

"I think it's a disgrace that someone can put innocent kids at risk - they are very, very sick."

Another parent, Rachel Jamison, said it was an "absolute disgrace that children have to experience this".

"My youngest is home sick with chicken pox and I had to get him out of the house to go and get my nine-year-old son, who now keeps asking what-if questions," she said. "People who attack a school should be behind bars."

Other parents spoke of their gratitude for the swift action of school staff.

Julie Hailes thanked staff for organising the evacuation so efficiently. "I'm in shock that someone could stoop so low," she said.

A spokesman for the school clarified that today would be a normal day and thanked parents for their support.

PSNI Chief Inspector Derek McCamley said he was "saddened" by what he described as a "disgusting prank".

"This was a long and protracted security operation, and I wish to take the opportunity to thank pupils, parents and staff at Pond Park, and the staff and pupils at Laurelhill Community College for their patience and understanding as police officers carried out the critical task of searching a very large school building and its surrounding area," he said.

He continued: "To think that someone would pick on a school to carry out such a disgusting prank is very saddening."

DUP MLA Paul Givan, who sits on the school's Board of Governors, revealed that the person had claimed three devices had been placed in the school grounds.

"I am outraged that someone would act in such a despicable way to target a primary school with over 600 children," he said.

"A school should be a safe haven for children to learn together but instead our children today have been evacuated from school and witness a security operation being put in place by the police."

Mr Givan commended teaching staff for their "calm and swift action", and urged anyone who can help police to catch the person responsible to come forward.

Lisburn deputy mayor Alex Redpath said he was "appalled and disgusted" by the incident.

"I have spoken to parents and they are concerned and very angry that their children have been subject to such disruption," he said.

"I would urge the entire community to work with the police to identify the culprit or culprits."

Just a few days ago Pond Hill Primary School won the BBC Radio Ulster School Choir of the Year competition.

Belfast Telegraph


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