Investigation underway following '˜malicious' fire in Moville

Gardai are awaiting the results of a forensic examination following what is believed to be a 'malicious' fire at an old school building in Moville in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 12:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 2:15 pm
Fire fighters tackle the blaze at Moville. Picture: Moville Fire Service Facebook page.

The building, previously St Joseph’s Boys School, sustained substantial damage in the blaze, which the fire service was alerted to at 4am.

The premises, which was built in the 1940s, had been earmarked as the new home for Moville’s Gaelscoil Cois Feabhail.

Inishowen Garda Superintendent Eugene McGovern confirmed to the ‘Journal’ that an investigation into the incident is underway.

He said that Gardai’s initial enquiries “would indicate that the fire appears to have been malicious.”

The scene was preserved and a forensic examination took place. Gardai are awaiting the outcome of these tests.

Superintendent McGovern said one area of investigation is that the building “may well” have been used by people during the day to congregate or as a “drinking den.” He said while the fire brigade and Gardai were alerted to the fire at 4am, it may have been “smouldering” for many hours.

He appealed to anyone who may have been in the area throughout the day and who saw any activity at the building, or who, in the past, may have seen activity there without the permission of the caretaker, to contact Buncrana Gardai on 074 93 20540.

Donegal chief fire officer Joseph McTaggart, told the ‘Journal the Moville Fire Sevice was alerted to the fire at 4am on the morning of July 12th. There were mobile four minutes later and arrived at 4.30am.

When they arrived at the scene in Ballynally, on the Greencastle road, the flames were coming through the roof of the old part of the school.

Due to the school’s location and access around it, the brigade required the assistance of Carndonagh Fire Brigade and a hydraulic platform and appliance from Letterkenny fire service. The new part of the building, containing a toilet block and general purpose room, was able to be saved.

The old section of the building sustained substantial damage and the fire brigade left the scene at 7.50am.

Moville County Councillor Martin Farren praised the work of the fire service and paid tribute to the board of management of the Gaelscoil. He said he hoped the blaze wouldn’t be too much of a “setback” to their plans for their new school.

Meanwhile, Senator Padraig MacLochlainn raised the matter with the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton and requested that the Minister make a statement on his Department’s plans to provide capital funding to Gaelscoil Cois Feabhail, following the fire.

He added: “Those responsible for this act of senseless sabotage have caused great harm to their local community.”