herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Anger as former school set alight by feuding youths

The fire damage at the former school
The fire damage at the former school
A truck takes away tyres

These are the scenes of destruction after a group of youths set fire to a stash of tyres that had been left in a disused school off Sean MacDermott Street.

Youngsters gained access to the old pre-school adjacent to the church and stored more than 70 tyres, which they planned to burn at Halloween.

But the youths allege that when a group from a different community tried unsuccessfully to take them for their own fire they set them alight.

It is understood that the incident happened in the early hours of Sunday morning.

smoke

The building, which is between Lower Sean MacDermott Street and Ruthland Street, was once used to house the Holy Child school, but that has since been moved.

The blaze caused massive smoke damage to the Taekwon-Do centre next door, which is also used as a dance and stage school.

"The smoke and soot was so thick that the whole community here had to row in and clean it all up, it was disgusting," said Francesca Arkins Fitzsimons, who runs the drama school in the hall.

"They (the children) had removed a skylight from the old pre-school and had dropped them (the tyres) in, but it seems when other lads found out they were there they wanted them, and when they couldn't get them out they set fire to some of them," Francesca said.

"The smoke was pouring out the doors and got into our hall and ruined it, and we're preparing for a big fundraiser event so we had to muck in and clean it all up," she added.

"It was a big shame because the hall was only decorated around 10 weeks ago."

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said that the centre next door was due to host a Strictly Come Dancing event, in aid of Inner City Helping Homeless.

He said that when volunteers heard about what had happened, they arrived down to help clean up the damage.

"The volunteers, in fairness to them, rolled up their sleeves and came down to help, so they have to be commended for that," he said.

Mr Burke hit out at those responsible for the inferno and said that he was in no doubt that it was set alight on purpose.

"Absolutely without a shadow of a doubt this was done on purpose," he said.

Gardai have launched an investigation, but there have been no arrests.

response

The blaze was the second in the city centre that Dublin Fire Brigade had to deal with over the weekend.

Four units of the Dublin Fire Brigade battled a house fire at Clanbrassil Street in the south of the city at around 4am on Saturday.

The fire was put out, but the road was closed for a time.

There were no injuries in either fire.

Earlier this month, Mr Burke launched Dublin Fire Brigade's Halloween safety campaign as part of the council's Halloween response programme.

hnews@herald.ie

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