Eric Bullick said: “The destruction of Arvalee School in Omagh during the early hours of Saturday morning is currently being treated as suspected arson. If this turns out to be true it will have been the most heinous of crimes committed primarily against the school’s one hundred children and sixty staff but also against the entire community of Omagh.
“To commit such a crime against one hundred of the most vulnerable young people in the Omagh District is nothing short of despicable.
“The school was ready to welcome back its pupils and staff had everything prepared for the new school year yet today there is practically nothing left. The loss of thousands of pounds worth of specialist equipment built up over many years is tragic enough but some of the specialist resources produced by staff over those same years will be literally irreplaceable.
“The disruption to the lives of the pupils many of whom depend upon the regular daily routine of working with trusted staff in safe and familiar surroundings is equally immeasurable.
“Arvalee would have been moving into new purpose-built accommodation in a few years time at which point a planned and smooth transfer from one building to another would have been readily achievable. The nightmare scenario now facing the school is that of relocating to temporary accommodation at impossibly short notice. This is a cruel blow callously inflicted on the pupils and staff by sinister individuals.
“The dedication and professionalism of all involved in the school will however win through in the end. Alternative accommodation will be found and staff will create a new secure environment for the pupils albeit at a massive personal cost in terms of time and effort. Likewise the community of Omagh of which Arvalee is an intrinsic part is a resilient and an overwhelmingly united community – a community which will pull together as it has done throughout past tragedies.
“Whilst remembering in particular the pupils and their parents I would also wish to commend the courage and endurance of the members of the fire service who fought the blaze throughout the night and managed to save some small sections of the building. Finally I would urge anyone who has even a shred of information relating to this fire to urgently share such evidence with the Police.”