Pupils scared to go to school after weekend break-in

The latest in a series of school break-ins around the county has left some pupils afraid to go to school, according to the principal of a school which was broken into on Sunday night.

Iseult Mangan is the principal of the tiny 12 student Cloghans Hill NS in south Mayo which had €9,000 worth of IT equipment stolen from it last Sunday night.

She told the Mayo Advertiser this week: “The children are afraid to come to school now. They were arriving on Monday morning and there were Garda squad cars roaring by. We’re a very small school and a lot of children live right beside it and they are afraid that the robber is in the school. It’s very unnerving for the children and I’ve had to call in the school physiologist to talk to the children.”

The thieves cleaned the school out of all of the IT equipment it used in its day to day teaching. “In total they took about €9,000 worth of IT equipment including three Apple laptops, four Acer netbooks, two iPads, two cameras, a camcorder, and all the other bits and pieces that would have been in the laptop bags. We had just got ourselves up to date on the whole use of IT in the classrooms, we had everything on them, our notes and plans. I was looking at my schedule for this week and we were supposed to be covering Italy today (Thursday ) and I had a whole programme laid out using the computers, iPads, and a DVD to show the children. Now it’s going back and dusting down the old encyclopaedia between them all.”

The targeting of schools has become common practice for thieves, and Ms Mangan explained it’s not the first time her school had been targeted. “It’s becoming more and more prevalent now, the next school over, just over the border in Galway in Foxhall, was robbed on the same night too and I read about some other ones that were targeted in recent weeks. It’s a terrible thing to do to children. It’s not the first time we’ve been robbed. We had two laptops taken last year and earlier this year we had our oil stolen. We upped the security as much as we could, but we can’t be putting in top of the range burglar alarms that cost thousands of euro because the money isn’t there for it in the school budget.”

While insurance will cover the cost of replacing the equipment, the hours of work that were put in to having everything ready to go for the classroom will have to be done again, Ms Mangan explained. “I spend maybe 100 hours getting everything ready to go with the different programmes on the computer and apps on the iPads and now that will have to be done again. They will mostly be covered by insurance, but we’re looking at having to pay a €2,000 excess which will have to come out of the school budget which should be spent on the children’s education and their future which it won’t be now.”

Fine Gael councillor Patsy O’Brien raised the issue of the theft this week at the Claremorris Electoral Area committee meeting, where he hit out at the thieves for stealing from children. Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser yesterday he said: “It’s the lowest of the low form of crime, they targeted the most vulnerable people in the country, the children. This is a small school that is hanging on to survival as best they can and then people go and do something like this to them. Over the past few weeks a number of schools across the county have been targeted and it’s not good enough at all.”


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