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Exams set to continue despite arson attack on city school


27/05/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Teachers at a north Belfast secondary school badly damaged by arsonists were yesterday working to ensue disruption to student examinations is kept to a minimum.

The sports hall of the Boy's Model school on Ballysillan Road suffered significant damage in the attack.

The hall was earmarked for demolition in the summer, but exams were due to begin there this morning .

The blaze, which was reported on Sunday afternoon quickly spread and a floor above collapsed.

Principal Jim Keith said examination papers had been lost in the fire.

"We have moved all (the exams) and reorganised the whole situation," he said.

"We are working very hard to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible."

Work to raze the sports hall was to begin at the end of June as part of a £22 million renovation plan.

Sports equipment stored in the building - including £4,500-worth of recently-purchased fencing gear - was also destroyed in the fire.

It took fire fighters four hours to extinguish the blaze which was started in a storeroom in the sport's hall.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Jim Rodgers visited the school yesterday and called those responsible for the arson "thugs."

"This is the last thing that the school needs at a time when they have a new building under way which will take two years to complete," he said.

"I would urge anyone who knows the culprits to assist the police with their enquiries otherwise I feel they will strike again."

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds described the attack "as a wanton act of destruction which will be condemned by everyone in the local community".

"Those responsible has caused many thousands of pounds worth of damage as well as bringing hardship to the school and all those who work and learn there."

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane also condemned the attack and asked anyone with information to contact police.

The incident is the latest in a series of arson attacks on schools in the area.

The school was closed yesterday for the Bank holiday but will open today as normal.



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