Hundreds of children had their schoolday disrupted yesterday due to bomb hoaxes at several primary schools.
Gardaí received calls claiming devices had been placed in the school campuses. The automated calls originated from an untraceable number. Pupils were evacuated from schools in Whitegate, near Midleton; Limerick; Waterford; and Dublin as a precautionary measure.
Milford primary school in Castletroy, Limerick, was among the schools affected. Up to 500 boys and girls were evacuated.
One parent, John McGrath, a 39-year-old quality engineer with a multinational company at Plassey Technological Park, located near the school, described the distress and disruption caused to his two sons, aged six and eight.
Mr McGrath said he got a text from the school at around 10.50am saying it had to be evacuated and that all the children were safe and out in the sunshine.
He decided to go to the school to check on his two sons: “One of the boys gets upset and when I met him after the children were led from the school, he was visibly upset and there was a tear in his eye,” said Mr McGrath.
“You try to prepare children for things, but when something happens some children can get very upset. The school handled it very well and it was a bizarre thing to happen.
“However, as I saw how one of my sons was after the incident, there was no way I could allow him back to school for the rest of the day. I have had to arrange with the creche where they go after school to take them a few hours earlier.”
Another parent, who has twin boys aged 11 and a girl aged seven attending Milford, said: “The way the school handled the whole thing was fantastic. The school were brilliant. We got a text saying there had been an incident and not to contact the school. While the gardaí carried out searches in the school and in grounds, the children had a great time out in the sunshine playing in a field. It was a bit of excitement for them.”
Shortly before noon, parents were told by text that all the children were happy back in school, enjoying their lunch.
Chief Superintendent David Sheahan of Henry Street Garda Station oversaw the security sweep carried out at the school. It involved a search team of gardaí deploying sniffer dogs.
As part of the search, all the children’s schoolbags had to be searched and cars parked adjacent to the school were also checked.
St Angela’s secondary and primary schools in Ballytruckle, Waterford, were also evacuated due to similar reports. Hoax calls were also made about a device at Scoil Colmcille in Donaghmede in Dublin.
Meanwhile, authorities are trying to establish if there is a link to threatening calls at seven other schools in the North, which were reportedly made from an automated system.
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