Northern Ireland news

Irish language school broken into three times in three days

Pilib Mistéil, principal of Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh, beside one of the windows smashed by burglars. Picture by Mal McCann
John Monaghan

AN IRISH language primary and nursery school in west Belfast has suffered three break-ins in as many days.

Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh, on the Ballymurphy Road, was targeted every day between Sunday and Tuesday morning.

The office of the nursery unit was broken into on Sunday, while on Monday and Tuesday morning the primary school office was ransacked.

Police said damage was caused to a vehicle and windows while two cashboxes - which the school said were empty - were stolen during the first burglary at around 3am on Sunday.

A teenage boy wearing a blue and grey hoodie was seen running away from the school, which has around 200 pupils.

On Monday, a large rock was used to break the window of the primary school office at around 12.40am.

The following morning, a plant pot was thrown through the window of the same office.

On both occasions the room was ransacked, but nothing was taken.

Up to £10,000 in damage was caused in total.

Principal Pilib Mistéil told The Irish News that classes were "continuing as normal" and thanked the community for an "extraordinary" level of support.

"It's the first time we've ever had anything like this. Windows and doors were broken, they were clearly looking for something," he said.

Offices at the nursery and primary school have been attacked. Picture from Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh

"There is no money to take - if that is their motive they are in the wrong place. We refuse to put walls up or barbed wire. That is not the answer.

"The support for the school has never wavered. The community provided the funds to set the school up and kept it running in the early years.

"We had neighbours and parents walking in the door and offering to clear up. The level of support is extraordinary."

Mr Mistéil added: "The mood has changed very quickly since Sunday and people are keen to identify these criminals."

Police have appealed to anyone with information to contact officers on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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