Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's Holy Cross school to reopen following dissident weapon find

Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert at the Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School
Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert at the Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School

A north Belfast primary school where an improvised dissident republican weapon was found will open as normal on Wednesday.

Around 300 pupils and staff from Holy Cross Boys' Primary School had to be evacuated from the building on Monday afternoon after the weapon was found in the school's sewer.

The school remained closed on Tuesday while police searched the area to ensure no other suspicious objects were hidden nearby.

Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts said the PSNI believe the weapon was "probably destined to be used in an attempt to kill or seriously injure police officers".

He described the item recovered as an "improvised weapon" which had the potential to fire a "high calibre round".

"Our working theory at this time is that this weapon was most likely to have been left there by dissident republican terrorists," he said.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Holy Cross principal Kevin McArevey and vice-principal Ciaran Curran informed parents the school would reopen on Wednesday.

Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts speaks to the media about a weapon at Holy Cross Primary School in north Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts speaks to the media about a weapon at Holy Cross Primary School in north Belfast (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

"We apologise for the inconvenience that today's closure may have caused, but we are assured that the school has been made safe and secure for all pupils and staff to return," they added.

"The Breakfast Club will be open as normal from 7.45am. Trainer Tuesday will run tomorrow as we missed it today. All children may bring to school a break of their choice. After schools will run as normal.

"Thank you for your continued support."

The improvised weapon was found by McArevey while he was helping the school caretaker unblock a sewer.

"I lifted a manhole cover and to my surprise I saw a plastic bag with what seemed to be something heavy in it," he told UTV.

"I initially thought it was a small spade so I lifted it out myself and unravelled the packaging only to be surprised to see wires at the top of this object.

Principal Kevin McArevey pictured outside the school. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Principal Kevin McArevey pictured outside the school. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

"It immediately aroused my suspicions so I went and I phoned the police."

The discovery has been widely condemned by politicians.

SDLP North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said: "This is disgraceful.

"To create a device and then hide it in the grounds of a primary school shows how low these people will go and the complete disregard and disrespect they have for the community.

"They're happy to put children, parents and school staff at risk.

"No principal and no school should have to experience this."

Chief Superintendent Roberts thanked the community for their "patience and understanding" during the police operation.

"This disruption was necessary in order to ensure there was no further risk to the children in the immediate area," he added.

“Detectives from the PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit have now commenced an investigating and are appealing for anyone with any information that can assist with their investigation or anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area recently to contact detectives on 101 quoting reference 1169 23/09/19. "

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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