School is closed on first day of term after suspicious item left on gates
A suspicious package left on the gates of a Fermanagh school has forced its closure on the first day of the new term.
Children as young as four were forced to evacuate St Paul's Primary School in Irvinestown just moments after it opened.
Around 200 pupils and staff at the Lisnarick Road school were taken away after a suspicious item was spotted around 9am.
A bag, which was left hanging on the school gates, was taken away for forensic examination. The school remained closed all day, but will re-open today. Head teacher Anne Molloy said the children were kept calm as they were led to safety at the neighbouring St Mary's College. She said: "We noticed something hanging on the nursery gate and we just phoned the police straight away because we knew it was something unusual.
"Then the police came and suggested that we would have to evacuate the building.
"The children weren't distressed, they were moved calmly from the building."
Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton slammed those responsible.
She said: "It is disgraceful in today's society that people want to put the lives of children at risk, or even disrupt their daily routine and education.
"The mindset of such individuals is something that is not wanted within our society, the community should not give any support to these people, indeed they should go further and report them to the authorities."
Councillor Diana Armstrong said the incident had been one of many to occur in the town in recent weeks but she could not be sure they are all related.
She praised the actions of the staff.
"It is thanks to the excellence of the staff who kept the children calm and led them to safety," she added.
"For those children it was their first day back at school and their parents expected them to be safe."