Panic as pupils evacuated from Christ the Redeemer Primary School in Lagmore following hoax device

Police at Christ the Redeemer Primary School in Lagmore during the security alert caused by a hoax device. Picture by Mal McCann
John Monaghan

THERE were scenes of panic outside a primary school in west Belfast yesterday after a suspicious object forced the school to close and pupils to be evacuated.

Parents rushed to collect their children after a decision was taken to close Christ the Redeemer PS in Lagmore, following a report of a suspicious object outside the school fence at around 9am.

Parents expressed their anger at the disruption, with one describing it as "disgraceful."

Another parent said of her child: "Luckily she thinks the heating's broke. She was disgusted at having to be taken out of school."

There was traffic chaos as bomb disposal experts attempted to enter the school at the same time as agitated parents arrived to take children home.

Some pupils were moved into the school's Assembly Hall before the school was shut for the day.

Lagmore Drive was closed for a period while police attended the scene, and the device was declared a hoax at lunchtime.

The security alert was ongoing as the funeral was taking place in Christ the Redeemer Church of Patrick McDonnell (52), the Twinbrook man who was killed last month in the US.

Mr McDonnell, who was renowned for his stained glass artwork, was hit by a lorry in North Carolina.

The father-of three, an avid Celtic supporter, had been living in the US for the past five years after remarrying, but regularly returned home to Belfast.

A parent and toddler programme for two-year-old children in the area also had to be cancelled due to the alert

The Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) said the school is expected to open as normal this morning.

A spokeswoman for CCMS said: "All proper procedures were followed and the school worked closely with the PSNI to quickly evacuate the school. The device was later confirmed to be a hoax."

She added: "The school was commended by the PSNI on how it managed to deal with the incident in such a calm and organised manner and we would anticipate that the school will be open as usual from tomorrow."

Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann described those responsible for the device as "reckless" and without "regard for anyone."

Ms McCann said: "Luckily this device turned out to be a hoax device but it caused massive disruption to the local community.

"This follows on from other devices left at the weekend in built-up residential areas. Those behind these devices have done nothing but the endanger the men, women and children of this community."

She added: "They have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of people in this community and they should end their attacks now."

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