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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Calls from automated text to gardai sees children evacuated from schools

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Ciaran Murphy and Martin Grant

Two Dublin schools were among several evacuated yesterday after a number of hoax calls were made from an automated text to gardai.

Officers responded to a report that a device was found at the Queen of Angels Primary School in Sandyford, and the Drumnigh Montessori school in Donaghmede.

Gardai and the PSNI were last night probing links to calls at seven other schools in the North along with other schools in the Republic.

It was confirmed last night that gardai searched both Dublin schools and no device was found. The schools were later reopened.

Gardai also responded to a report that a device was found at St Angela’s Secondary school and adjoining St Ursula’s Primary School, Ballytruckle, in Waterford city.

Over 1,500 children in the schools – 860 in the secondary school along with about 700 in the primary – were evacuated yesterday morning.

The children from the primary school were allowed home, while St Angela’s returned to classes once gardai declared the premises safe.

“On advice from gardai this morning, St Angela’s School and St Ursula’s School were temporarily evacuated as a precaution. Standard protocol was followed by the school,” said the acting principal at St Angela’s, Caitriona Morgan.

She was later advised that there was “no risk” to students or staff so those at St Angela’s “were returned to class”.

Gardai and the PSNI are liaising as their inquiries continue into the bizarre incidents.

Other schools affected include the Milford National School, Castletroy, Co Limerick, the Holy Family Girls National School at Askea in Co Carlow, and Whitegate National School, Midleton, Co Cork.

While investigations are at an early stage, officers said they have no information to suggest a terrorist link to the incidents.

The PSNI described the texts which schools in the North received as “malicious communications”.

Meanwhile, dozens of similar incidents were reported in Britain on Monday.

No devices were found in any of the incidents and all have been declared hoaxes.

Reports yesterday suggested that hoaxers in the US playing online games recently used similar methods to hide their identities to make threats against schools in six US states.

The incidents sparked a major police operation involving several units of Swat teams.

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