Ten-year-olds lit blaze at city school -- gardai

Niall O'Connor

GARDAI suspect that children as young as 10 years of age may be behind a serious fire which caused damage to a popular city school, the Herald can reveal.

The community around the north inner city has been left reeling after St Laurence O'Toole's girls school was partially destroyed after a number of tyres were set alight outside the main door.

It has now been learned that some 120 children attending the well-known school on Seville Place have been split up and are being accommodated in other schools and council buildings.


The school, whose former principal is Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain, has been shut since Sunday as repair works are being carried out.

And according to the school's board of management, it could take up to a month until the necessary repair works are completed.

In a shocking development the Herald can reveal that gardai believe children -- as young as "10 or 11" -- are responsible for setting the tyres alight.

A source explained: "There have been a lot of children out and about in the area into the early hours of the morning and it looks likely that they flung tires into the school yard before setting them alight.

"This was more of a prank than anything else but the damage they have caused will cost thousands to repair.

"It can be very difficult for the guards to take action when you're dealing with children as young as eight or nine," the source added.

Locals are very concerned about the level of anti-social behaviour close to the school in recent months with a number of reports of intimidation and drug dealing.

City councillor Christy Burke told the Herald that the local community has been "greatly saddened" by the event.

"Of all places you would expect to be targeted, it certainly wouldn't be St Laurence O'Toole's. There are kids here who have very little -- but one thing they cherish is going to school, getting educated and spending time with their friends.


"I would urge everyone in the area to consider how important this school is. Any information must be passed on to gardai."

The school principal, Siobhan McHenry, described the attack on the school as "disgusting".

Our pictures show the outside of the school severely damaged by flames and smoke.

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

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Store Street Garda Station on 01 6668000