Teachers who shielded children from murder scene praised

Teachers have come in for praise after they used coats and jumpers to shield children’s view of a murder scene following a shooting outside a school in west Belfast.

Jim Donegan was shot dead as he waited for his son in a red Porsche outside St Mary’s Christian Brothers Grammar School on the Glen Road at around 3.15pm.

The scene of the shooting in west Belfast on Tuesday, December 4

The scene of the shooting in west Belfast on Tuesday, December 4

He was shot several times, including once in the head.

Police believe the shooting was carried out by a lone gunman wearing a high-visibility vest, who then fled the scene on foot.

Fiona Crookes, interim principal of St Mary’s Grammar School, speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme this morning, said pupils had to walk past the scene of the killing.

“Our primary concern at that stage was that they wouldn’t see what we had to see,” she said.

“We took off coats, cardigans and things like that and put them round the windows of the car so they couldn’t see.”

Mrs Crookes told the BBC Mr Donegan’s 13-year-old son became the school’s “priority”.

“We got him, we brought him back to school and the police let his mum through the cordon,” she said. “His poor wee face was shocking - it is absolutely horrific.”

The school’s interim principal said staff “were very much in control of the situation”.

Pupils will be offered counselling when the school reopens on Thursday.

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood, whose children attend one of the nearby schools, praised the teachers and staff.

“My three kids go to St Theresa’s Primary School, which is about 500 yards from where the incident happened,” Mr Attwood said.

“I was speaking to the principal this morning and she said that because school finishes at three, there were kids from there and from St Mary’s CBS Grammar School going up the road at that time.

“Some of them witnessed what happened or witnessed the chaos afterwards.”

He continued: “I was at the scene at about four yesterday and the teachers did a great job in supporting those kids who were extremely traumatised by what happened.

There were parents arriving who were anxious about their kids, and there were relatives arriving obviously in a very distressed state after hearing their loved one had been murdered.

“It is callous enough for a gunman in the middle of the day to shoot dead a father, a brother, a son in such a cold and calculated way, but to do it outside a school at a time when kids were coming out. As the police said, anythng could have happened to the kids.

It was very distressing for the kids and even the teachers themselves.”

Mr Attwood added: “It was a very difficult moment for the staff of the schools but they professionalism they showed, and the compassion for the kids was fully demonstrated yesterday. I saw it first hand.”