Irish police are questioning a man who is accused of waving an imitation shotgun at a group of up to 50 children at St Mary’s Youth Centre in Tullamore, County Offaly.

The man is accused of waving the gun at and threatening the children, mainly in their early teens. He is also accused of setting off fireworks. The incident took place at 9pm when the children were leaving the facility. The Irish Independent reported that he was a foreign national and was wearing army clothing, according to witnesses.

Bill O’Hanlon, the center manager, said, “It would have been time for them to go home, it would have been the children who saw him first.”

When the staff were alerted they moved the children back inside.

O’Hanlon said, “The main thing was to get them to a safe spot.

“It was scary times for them last night, the staff here were terrified. As it happened it wasn’t a real firearm.”

The police said some of the children were crying and were badly shaken when they arrived. The man was arrested outside the center. He is being held by the police under the Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

St Mary’s Youth Centre in Tullamore, County Offaly.Offaly Independent