Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 16:23 UK

Arson at Irish language school

Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche
A mobile classroom was destroyed in the suspected arson attack

Three mobile classrooms at an Irish language school in Castlewellan in County Down have been destroyed in an arson attack.

The alarm was raised at Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche at Circular Road shortly after 0400 BST on Friday.

It was reported that a mobile classroom was on fire. The scene is being examined to establish the exact cause of the blaze.

School principal Aedin Geary described the incident as "heartbreaking".

"We just got word on Monday that we had planning permission for our new school which is very near to where we are at the minute," she said.

"We were really delighted about that and looking forward to going back to school with the kids."

SDLP councillor Eamonn O'Neill, who is on the school's management committee, said he believed the fire was "malicious".

"As a member of the management committee, I know at first-hand the amount of hard work that has gone into this school and preparing it for the new school year," he said.

"Let me make this clear, that hard work will continue.

"Unfortunately, lots of records and reports and the labours of years of hard work by both teachers and pupils have been destroyed but thankfully, over time, these can be replaced."

Mobile classrooms at Buscoil Bheanna Boirche
The fire was reported at 4am on Friday morning

Sinn Fein South Down MLA Willie Clarke's daughter is a pupil at the school.

He said: "This arson attack has destroyed this school and has shocked the community, the teachers and the those who attend the school."

"What is particularly sickening is that this attack comes only days before the school and nursery were set to reopen for the new school year."

The police are investigating a motive but do not believe the attack was sectarian.

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