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The former Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin building in Ballincollig after the arson attack Niall O'Connor

Arson attack at building earmarked to house Ukrainian refugees condemned as 'attack on community'

The former Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin building in Ballincollig was criminally damaged by fire in the early hours of the morning.

LAST UPDATE | 28 Jul 2023

AN ARSON ATTACK on a former school building in Cork city that has been earmarked to house Ukrainian refugees has been condemned as an “attack on the community”. 

The former Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin building in Ballincollig was criminally damaged by fire in the early hours of the morning. 

Gardaí received reports of the fire and attended the scene at around 12.10am. Cork City Fire Brigade also attended the scene a short time later and extinguished the fire. 

The Journal understands that three men arrived and left in a car. The attack is believed to have lasted roughly six minutes.

The scene is currently being held, pending a technical examination.

The Irish Examiner last week reported that the former school building is being redeveloped to house up to 94 Ukrainian refugees. 

It reported that site work is underway ahead of the conversion of the building for residential use. 

Speaking to The Journal today, local Fine Gael councillor Garret Kelleher said that Ballincollig is a “community with a huge amount of voluntary effort that goes into maintaining the area to a very high standard”. 

“I would look upon this as an attack on us all, an attack on the community,” Kelleher said. 

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher told The Journal that there has been a “massive push” by the owners of the building to get the housing up an running “as soon as possible”. 

“As recently as last week we were informed that works were progressing fairly well and they would be in there in a matter of weeks. The fire now could set that back which is absolutely desperate,” he said. 

“I’d hope that anyone with information will contact gardaí in Ballincollig or in Togher and help them find out who’s responsible for this.” 

Gardaí say a criminal investigation is ongoing.

A spokesperson from the Department of Integration said it “is conscious of the need to ensure quality in all accommodation contracted, while also providing shelter and safety urgently to those who need it”.

“In considering offers, the Department takes into account a range of factors such as accommodation suitability, rates, capacity and amenities. Every effort is being made to activate suitable accommodation offers.

“The Department is unable to give details relating to any specific suppliers while negotiations are ongoing, due to the commercial sensitivity of these negotiations.”

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