Magherafelt students to miss out on Euro finals after schools cancel trip over safety fears

The Eiffel Tower lit in the colours of the French Nation flag after terrorist attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story POLICE Paris Eiffel. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The Eiffel Tower lit in the colours of the French Nation flag after terrorist attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story POLICE Paris Eiffel. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Students at two Magherafelt schools are to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris for the Euros, after the schools abandoned plans over concerns for their safety.

The BBC reported that cancellation of the cross-community trip involving St Mary’s Grammar and Magherafelt High School has cost the schools £5,000.

French army soldiers patrol under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tuesday Jan. France is still under a state of emergency 
(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

French army soldiers patrol under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tuesday Jan. France is still under a state of emergency (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

But the 50 pupils and five staff who were due to leave for the football tournament in June, have been refunded the £550 they had paid.

An official state of emergency is in place in France until at least the end of the tournament.

Principal of St Mary’s Grammar, Deirdre Gillespie, said the safety of pupils had to come first.

“We consulted widely with pupils, staff, parents and governors,” she said.

“When we decided to pull the trip we wrote to them and they felt that we had made the right decision.

“Many of us have lived through the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Some people would say suck it up and get on with it, but actually when you’re responsible for young people’s health and well-being you have to make these tough decisions.”

During the trip, pupils had expected to attend two Euro 2016 matches in Paris.

Declan Murray, who has never been to a major football tournament before, said while he was disappointed he understood why the decision was made.

“They said our safety was the number one thing and they couldn’t guarantee that,” he said.

“I almost expected it because of the two attacks so I wasn’t that surprised. I understand why they had to do it.

“It’ll still be enjoyable to watch, but it won’t just be the same.”