The head of an east Belfast primary school has condemned the “heartless” vandals behind an overnight attack which has seen thousands of pounds worth of damage.
Elmgrove Primary School hit out at those responsible for destroying around 60 windows at their new Avoniel Road site, as a local councillor said the act was “disgraceful”.
Police confirmed three people were reported to be responsible for the damage, which also included graffiti being sprayed around the premises.
Part of the primary school site is being developed with nearby Elmgrove Primary School set to move in.
In a social media post on Sunday written by the Principal Jayne Jeffers, Elmgrove PS said they were “shocked and dismayed” at the incident.
"Overnight our new school building was broken into and damaged. Windows were broken and graffiti was sprayed around the building,” she wrote.
"The full extent of the damage will not be known until tomorrow. We are shocked and dismayed that vandals could so heartlessly destroy the building that Elmgrove has waited so long for.
"Our new building will be a valuable asset to our children who deserve nothing but the best. We are a community school and so we are appealing to the Elmgrove community to contact the PSNI, or us through our Facebook page, if you have any information about this incident.”
Jim Rodgers, an Ulster Unionist councillor, is a former chair at the Education and Library Board and said those responsible for the damage need to be “made an example of”.
Part of the primary school site is being developed ahead of a merger with another nearby school.
“I worked hard during my time and still have been, to try and get this school refurbished and to get a new build,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"The nearby Elmgrove Primary school is closing and all the pupils are moving into Avoniel. The builders have been working really hard to get the building finished and then at the weekend you discover this.
"We have now got a new Avoniel leisure centre with all the facilities possible. It is a good area. I have no doubt those involved don’t live too far away from the area.
"I don’t understand the mindset of those responsible.
"The Education Authority is struggling in regards to its finances and this certainly doesn’t help. It is sickening for the school principal, the teachers, the support staff, the caretaker as well as the pupils.
"I am very angry.
"I would appeal to those culprits who have been involved, to hand themselves into the police immediately. I have no doubt the PSNI will be making enquiries and will be calling at homes making arrests.”
DUP councillor George Dorrian said those responsible should feel “ashamed” of their actions.
"It costs a substantial amount of money to replace, but unfortunately the ones responsible don’t care about it. They are not interested,” he said.
"Saturday night - to break into and wreck a school takes a certain mindset.
"Hopefully the police will apprehend them and bring them off the streets. You have young children and you have staff who work extremely hard at the school. All of the staff and workers are coming in to face that on Monday.
"If they have any sense of decency they will hand themselves in now.”
In a police statement, PSNI Inspector Lowry said: “Police received a report just after 11pm that three persons had accessed the school grounds and began to smash windows.
“Approximately 60 windows have been destroyed inside the building as well as numerous graffiti marks sprayed around the premises.
“Our investigation is now underway and we are appealing to anyone who may have any information or dashcam footage which can assist us to contact 101 quoting reference number 2144 14/05/22.”
The school has been contacted for a response.