Anger as vandals target Derry school and boxing club

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The principal of a local primary school has spoken of her anger after vandals broke in and set fire to their eco garden equipment over the weekend.

The same gang are also believed to have been responsible for smashing windows at a nearby boxing club.

The blaze at St Paul’s Primary School in Galliagh on Saturday night resulted in a shed, and equipment being housed inside it such as children’s watering cans and trowels, and a hand-made outdoor kitchen being destroyed.

Principal of the local primary school Catriona McFeely said she was really angry that people were able to get away with such wanton destruction.

Mrs McFeely said: “We have a designated school garden we have set up for the children from primary one, two and three and they all do gardening. We have an Eco -Club that runs every Monday. All their equipment and the shed was just burned to the ground. There was nothing we could salvage.

“We had a beautiful wee garden here, raised beds, growing vegetables and flowers to teach them about appreciating their environment and then people like this come and wreck it. It’s heartbreaking.”

Mrs McFeely said volunteers, including Leafair gardeners, teachers who gave up of their own time, Conservation Volunteers, and even her own husband had helped develop the garden.

Mrs McFeely said that when she visited the school to examine the extent of the destruction on Sunday, one of the pupils came up and asked,‘Mrs McFeely what happened to our garden?’ and she had to explain what had occurred.

Confirming details of the fire, a Fire & Rescue Service spokesperson meanwhile said: “Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue received a call at 10.18pm to a report of a fire at premises in the Moss Road area of Galliagh on Saturday 8th August.

“One Fire Appliance from Northland Fire Station was deployed to the scene of a rubbish fire at the rear of a school in the area.

“The incident finished at 10.56pm and is being treated as a deliberate fire.”

Meanwhile a clean-up operation was today under way at St Joseph’s ABC Boxing Club, whose premises are in the same gated area as the school.

Sandra Duffy, Club Secretary and Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, said: “There is glass all over the boxing rings and bits of broken bricks. There’s a good bit of damage.

“We are planning a newbuild and we just don’t have the money to repair it.

“The club coaches are currently making the most of what we have. The young people are still training in it. It’s a bit of a nightmare.”

The club- housed in former classrooms at St Paul’s- is due to be bulldozed in the coming weeks to make way for the new, purpose-built facility.

However, with tournaments coming up the facility will still have to be used until then and Colr. Duffy said they hoped to have it ready for use again later today (Monday).