Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Elmgrove Primary School to open Monday after 'malicious' threat

By Rebecca Black

An east Belfast primary school, forced to close after receiving a "malicious" threat by email, will open on Monday.

Elmgrove Primary School principal Jayne Jeffers  said the school plans to reopen and that she would be engaging with the police and the Belfast Education and Library Board.

A heavy police presence had been deployed around the school on the Beersbridge Road in east Belfast for the past two days.

It is understood that the threat, which was received on Wednesday, specifically related to today and was against someone associated with the school.

Last night police revealed they were looking for a man named Martyn Price (33) in connection with the threat.

A statement said: "It is believed that Mr Price may travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and potentially use public transport.

He was described as being approximately 5ft 9in, of medium build, with long brown hair and green eyes.

A photograph of the wanted man was also released.

A 33-year-old man was later arrested.

PSNI Superintendent Darrin Jones earlier said his officers were "investigating a report of malicious telecommunications which was reported on Wednesday, 21 January".

He described the communication as being of a "threatening nature".

Supt Jones said that the operation was a joint one involving police in the Republic.

"An extensive investigation is currently ongoing to identify the whereabouts of the individual involved and police are working with An Garda Síochána," he said.

"Police have deployed additional officers to the local community to keep people safe and to provide visible reassurance."

DUP councillor Gavin Robinson said an Autism in the Community event that had been due to take place in the school today had to be cancelled.

"It was obviously a significant decision to have to close the school and it has consequences for all of the kids. I hope it will be resolved quickly, and I don't believe it will extend beyond Friday."

East Belfast MP Naomi Long said the decision to close the school was taken as a precaution. She condemned the threat email as "reckless in the extreme".

"I have spoken to the police and have been reassured they are fully investigating a definite line of inquiry," she said.

"I want to praise them for putting extra police around the school, and extend that commendation to the Belfast Education and Library Board and school staff who took decisive action in handling this situation.

"Elmgrove's closure is only a precaution but it was a wise one to take. The receiving of this malicious communication is deeply concerning and brings nothing but stress and disruption to the children of the school, as well as local residents."

Last night some parents expressed their distress at events in online posts, with some even threatening they would not bring their children back until they received a full explanation.

One parent who has four children at the school said she felt very nervous about sending them back.

She said: "We as parents are the last to hear anything. I was at the school at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm to collect them, and each time I asked were my kids safe, and was told yes, and now to hear this am more concerned than ever."

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: "The department is aware of the issue and is being kept up to date by the Belfast Education and Library Board, who are liaising with the police. ‎

"The priority for the department and the board is to ensure the safety and well being of pupils and staff at Elmgrove Primary School."

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