Parents livid as bomb left close to special needs school
Dissident republicans are being blamed for leaving a bomb near a special needs school.
Police said the device left at Sloan Street in Lurgan was "designed to kill or maim anyone close by".
Livid parents of special needs children hit out at the 'monsters' who left the bomb near the school in Co Armagh.
The discovery of the suspicious object following a telephone bomb alert, led to the closure of Ceara Special School and the nearby Carrick Primary School in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
A nursery school and sheltered accommodation were among properties evacuated during another security alert in Holywood, Co Down. It was later declared an elaborate hoax.
Craigavon Chief Inspector Anthony McNally condemned those behind the Lurgan incident.
He said: "This device was designed to kill or maim anyone close by – police officers or local people alike. "
The principal of Ceara School said he was told by police of the alert at 6.30am yesterday, after they received a warning of a bomb.
Parents of pupils at Ceara and Carrick schools were alerted to the situation by text message and told not to travel to the school. Homes in the vicinity of Sloan Street were also evacuated.
Ceara head, Dr Peter Cunningham, said he was devastated at the disruption and upset caused to the vulnerable pupils, whose ages range from three to 19.
"Our children just don't understand – when they get their uniforms on, it's time to go to school.
"When the bus doesn't come, our children, especially those who work under a very strict routine, become very anxious – so we have lots of anxious children and equally anxious families."
He added: "I think anyone who puts a device, be it a viable device or a hoax, into a special school – I think we have hit a new low in this country."
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan said those behind the alert had victimised some of the the most vulnerable in society.
Mr Kinahan, who is vice-chair of the Stormont education committee, added: "It's bad enough that anyone should seek to cause disruption by planting devices, but to do so in the proximity of schools is simply outrageous."
His party colleague, Jo-Anne Dobson, added: "Routine is so important for special children and they are frightened and scared today."
Around 300 pupils at Carrick Primary School were unable to attend because of police cordons.
It was not yet known last night whether the device had been deliberately placed near the schools or dumped there.
It is the second blow for the Ceara Special school in recent months.
In August, Ceara vandals ripped up trees planted in the memory of pupils who had passed away. Fencing, potted plants, lawns and foundations of building work were also damaged.
The large security operation in Holywood was finally ended when an object was found to be a hoax.