Northern Ireland

Joshua Kelly, six, dies after being hit by car in Newtownards

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Media captionJoshua Kelly, pictured with his mother Clare, was knocked down on Wednesday afternoon

Tributes have been paid to six-year-old Joshua Kelly who died after he was struck by a car in Newtownards, County Down.

It happened on Scrabo Road on Wednesday afternoon.

The child was a pupil at St Finian's Primary School in the town.

In a statement, the school principal, Mr Coulter, said Joshua would be "sadly missed by the whole school community".

"Joshua was a beautiful, kind little boy who was very popular with his classmates and the staff of the school," he said.

"His smile could light up a room and his bubbly, affectionate personality was infectious.

"There is a severe sense of shock and grief throughout our school."

'Thoughts and prayers'

Mr Coulter said trained staff from the education authority's critical incident response team were helping to support the staff and children through this "difficult time".

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Joshua's entire family circle and the St Finian's school community sends them our sincerest sympathy and support," he added.

DUP MP for Strangford Jim Shannon said a "great many people" in the town had been affected by the boy's death.

"Everyone is overwhelmed with grief and our thoughts are with the family."

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Image caption Police and paramedics were called to the scene on the Scrabo Road in Newtownards

In a statement, members of the Scrabo Residents' Association extended their "heartfelt condolences" to his family, saying: "We are all parents and grandparents and can imagine the pain the family must be feeling at this very sad time."

The statement added: "We have been asking for traffic calming measures to be made along the Scrabo Road and in front of the Model School for a number of years now.

"We have concerns about the new roundabout, the traffic lights at Circular Road, daily delivery vans and lorries, the high volume of traffic and parking issues at the front of the school.

"We have met many times with local councillors, MLAs, our local MP, Transport NI and the principal of the Model School regarding these problems and we will continue pressing for these matters to be resolved."

Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy said the area was "overcome with grief" and that the accident happened on a "busy stretch of the road".

Devastation

Green Party councillor John Barry said the boy's death had shaken the community.

"People are absolutely devastated," he said.

"It makes it particularly poignant and even more tragic that it's a boy so young, their whole life ahead of them, taken away - it's beyond words.

"We now have a grieving family in our area but also probably a devastated family related to the driver."

Mr Shannon said the reasons for the incident were "unclear", however he said he believed there was a need for traffic-calming measures in the area.

He said he had met Scrabo Residents Association three weeks ago about the issue.

"There is clearly a need in relation to health and safety, road traffic movement and the access and exit of children from school along with their parents," he said.