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Fire-attacked school plans temporary move



A plan has been agreed that allows a primary school destroyed in a weekend arson attack to resume operations after the summer holidays.

Whitehouse Primary School - which was devastated by a malicious fire - will be hosted in a vacant wing of the nearby Newtownabbey Community High School from next term.

The temporary solution to the school's accommodation crisis was agreed by representatives of both schools and senior officials of the North Eastern Education and Library Board at a site meeting yesterday morning.

The school's double nursery unit, which was virtually untouched by the fire, will remain at its present location.

The arrangement to accommodate the primary school in 10 or more unused classrooms at the secondary school will mean some ancillary work will be needed and mobile classrooms may also be required.

"We hope that plans for a new building for Whitehouse Primary will be speeded up and that the emergency transfer of the school will be a purely short-term measure," a board spokesman said.

Whitehouse PS was the fourth school to be targeted by arsonists in the greater Belfast area in the past few days.

Last Wednesday, St Mary's Star of the Sea Primary School on the Shore Road was damaged in an arson attack.

A plastic sign and rubbish bins were set alight and a boilerhouse was extensively damaged.

The arsonists also tried to set fire to the roof and sectarian graffiti was written on the building.

A fire at the former La Salle Boys' School on the Glen Road in west Belfast last Thursday is also being treated as suspicious, as is an attack on St Patrick's College Bearnageeha in north Belfast.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane yesterday called for attacks on schools to end.

The minister was speaking after visiting Whitehouse PS, St Mary's Star of the Sea PS and St Patrick's College Bearnageeha.

She said: "All these attacks are totally senseless and must be condemned. I have visited the schools and offered the support of my Department.

"Many schools are at the heart of their communities and these attacks not only hit the school population, but the wider community. I have been heartened to hear of the offers of support coming in for the schools from other areas and organisations.

"It is essential that a co-ordinated effort is made to support our children and young people.

"Attacks on schools serve no purpose whatsoever but cause disruption for children and the loss of important school work.


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