Tallaght school reopens in defiance of Lidl vandalism

Locals feel let down, disgusted and embarrassed over ‘shameful’ weekend incident

As a matter of principle, Scoil Aoife Community National School opened its doors on Monday morning though it could have been excused for staying shut.

The approaches to the school, which is in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, remain thick with snow banked on either side of the road.

School principal Stacey McAuley, her husband, the school caretaker and some of the teachers turned up at 7.30am to clear away the snow and dig a path from the front door to the school gate.

It was a small act of defiance against nature and against the vandals who destroyed the Lidl store directly opposite the school at Fortunestown Lane, Tallaght.

The store presented an apocalyptic sight on Monday morning after the now infamous attack when a gang commandeered a JCB on site to smash through the roof of the store and then loot it.

A digger was again in evidence on Monday, but this time clearing away the detritus of Friday evening’s raid. The roof is a tangled jumble of wooden slats and poles. The Lidl sign is hanging at an angle, the perimeter fence around it is boarded up.

The smashed-up supermarket presents quite the contrast with the school opposite which was opened only in September 2014. It’s just one of eight community national schools in the country.

Brave pupils

Ms McAuley said when she complimented some of the junior infants on being brave enough to make it through the snow to school, one responded: “We’re very brave because we’re not crying that Lidl has been smashed up.”

Ms McAuley added: “What struck me most was the parents who contacted me over the weekend and who said, ‘I’m so embarrassed and so ashamed for my community.’

“That’s the kind of people who are here. It is so unfair that they are let down. One parent told me this morning that one of her neighbours was involved and she said it was disgusting.

“We have a lot of people here who are looking for a better life for their children. Most of our families here are forward thinking. They have chosen this school as a new beginning.”

The sense of vicarious disgust – that these looters did not represent the community from which they came – is palpable as people pass this Lidl on the way to CityWest which is now their nearest shopping centre. For locals, Lidl was not only their local supermarket, but their local convenience store.

The loss is keenly felt too because many worked in it. They will be redeployed, according to the company, but neither they nor the residents who shop there will have the convenience they used to have.

Around the corner from Lidl in Ard More Drive, residents were still shovelling the snow off their driveways on Monday afternoon. They came together on Sunday evening to clear the estate so they could go to work on Monday morning.

“There was four foot of snow,” said one resident who did not wish to be named. Her house backs on to Lidl and she saw and heard the commotion. The digger turned out of Lidl, brought down power lines and then turned into her estate pushing the supermarket safe in front of it like a child kicking a football down the street.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times