Special needs school wrecked
Special needs school wrecked


A Catholic-maintained school for special needs pupils has been badly damaged in a sectarian hate crime in east Belfast.

St Vincent’s Centre on Willowfield Drive is attended by primary school pupils with special educational needs. Masked youths set the building ablaze last weekend.

A window in a downstairs classroom was smashed, accelerant poured through it and set alight. While no-one was injured, there was extensive smoke and scorch damage to the walls and ceiling of the classroom and a lot of the pupils’ coursework was destroyed.

The PSNI said the same group of around 15 masked youths had been setting bins on fire, setting off fireworks and throwing missiles at passing motorists.

Last week, the same area saw loyalist disturbances orchestrated by the unionist paramilitary UVF and a bomb attack on Catholic homes. The disorder followed the removal of a toxic ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfire.

Sinn Fein councillor Mairead O’Donnell said the attack was “a particularly despicable hate crime”.

“It is hard to fathom that anyone would target a school in an arson attack, which provides for the special needs of children,” she said. “I call on anyone who has any information on those who carried out this attack to bring it forward immediately to the police.

“We must stand firm as one community against sectarian bigotry, wherever, and whenever it arises, and political and community leaders must call with one voice for such acts of hatred to end.”

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