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Vandals force school to close after blaze in yard

CHILDREN have been told to stay away from a Dublin school for a week after vandals caused severe fire damage.

Gardai are investigating after a gang of youths allegedly torched a number of tyres right outside the doors of St Laurence O'Toole's girls' school.

Our pictures show the outside of the school, which has now been severely damaged by flames and smoke.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the youths are suspected of flinging the tyres into the school grounds before setting them on fire.

The tyres had been accumulating just metres away from the building for weeks -- with locals claiming that they were being collected for Halloween.

The school -- at Seville Place in the North Inner City -- caters for 120 children who will now have to spend the week at home.

School principal Siobhan Henry described the vandalism as "disgusting".

"This school is loved by so many. It is at the heart of the community and what has been done to it is simply disgusting.

"The children, parents and staff are all very upset that they have no school to go this week.

"For health and safety reasons they have to stay at home," she told the Herald.

"We're taking every day at a time to try and get the place back together. There is a lot of structural damage. The walls inside are all black and there is smoke and water damage."

The news has caused dismay among the local community, with councillor Nial Ring describing it as "despicable".

"The local school has been targeted before, but this time the damage is widescale, with smoke damage and water damage. The building is effectively shut down for a period -- and we don't know when the children will be allowed back to school."

Gardai told the Herald that they are particularly interested in talking to people who may have noticed any "suspicious activity" between 4am and 6am on Sunday morning.

"There was heat damage to the front of the building and extensive smoke damage to the entire building," a garda spokesman said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Store Street Garda Station on 01 6668000.