Larne school bomb scare ‘utterly appalling’

The police cordon on Linn Road.  INLT 21-671-CON

The police cordon on Linn Road. INLT 21-671-CON

Almost 400 Larne pupils were forced to evacuate their school this morning following a bomb scare.

Staff and younsgters at Linn Primary School were taken to nearby Craigyhill Presbyterian Church after the threat was received shortly before 10am..

Pupils and staff of Linn PS were given sanctuary at Craigyhill Presbyterian Church.  INLT 21-672-CON

Pupils and staff of Linn PS were given sanctuary at Craigyhill Presbyterian Church. INLT 21-672-CON

Ben Preston, Minister at Craigyhill Presbyterian said he was “pleased” to offer a sanctuary for those affected.

He added: “The schoool reached out to us this morning and asked if we could accommodate the pupils until their parents or guardians came to pick them up. We were happy to oblige and the kids have been wonderful. We provided some refreshments, said an impromptu prayer and just tried to keep the kids entertained. The whole community has really come together to offer its support.

“It is disappointing that a primary school could be targeted in this way. Kids are supposed to feel safe and secure at school, they shouldn’t have to be frightened that something like this could happen. We thought those days were over.”

Andrew Ritchie, vice-principal of Linn PS told the Times: “We received the threat just before 10am when the children were in assembly. We just turned on the fire alarm and pretended it was a fire drill to avoid any panic.

Members of Craigyhill Presbyterian Church helping to provide refreshments for those affected by the bomb scare.  INLT 21-674-CON

Members of Craigyhill Presbyterian Church helping to provide refreshments for those affected by the bomb scare. INLT 21-674-CON

“We texted parents to inform them of the situation and assure them everything ok, and asked them to come and collect their children at the church.

“We are very grateful to Rev Preston and all those at Craigyhill Presbyterian for opening their doors to accommodate us all. This sort of thing can be very distressing for parents, not to mention disruptive.”

Police have said the threat was part of a series of “malicious communications” made to schools across Northern Ireland. Officers said there had been similar communications in other parts of the UK and police services were working together to establish if there was a link.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “At this stage there is no information to suggest the incidents are terrorist-related, however enquiries continue to establish the facts.

“Anyone with information should contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen condemned those behind the incident and said: “This has caused major disruption and distress for all those involved.”

Party colleague, East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons added: “It is utterly appalling that anyone would considering terrorising school children in this way. This will have been frightening for them and for local residents it is extremely disruptive.

“Anyone with any information should go to the police and I hope that those who have been making the calls to schools across NI are brought to justice.’

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs stated: “I unreservedly condemn the series of malicious communications to schools today which includes Linn PS in Craigyhill.”

Sinn Fein MLA for East Antrim, Oliver McMullan added: “It is very worrying for parents when this sort of thing happens, but police and schools have responded very well. Something is very wrong with those behind this and there can be no justification.”

READ MORE: Larne school evacuated after bomb scare