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Police call for calm as threat issued to Belfast schools

A man claiming to represent the Red Hand Defenders issued the threat, according to the Irish News.

Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland have appealed for calm following reports that threats have been made to pupils at three schools in Belfast.

The PSNI said its officers are aware of a threat made in relation to a number of schools in the north of the city.

“The threat was made through a third party on Friday, 6 September,” they said in a statement. “Investigations into the threat are ongoing. At this stage, there is no evidence to corroborate the threat.

Police are committed to protecting all communities in north Belfast and we would encourage all community leaders and those in positions of influence to play an active role in diffusing tension and maintaining calm.

The Irish News reported this morning that a man claiming to represent loyalist paramilitary group, the Red Hand Defenders, issued the threat of “military action” against the schools using a known codeword.

According to the newspaper, the group said it reactivated in response to “attacks on the Protestant, unionist and loyalist community in recent months”.

“Parents, pupils and staff who go to those schools are no longer welcome at the three schools,” his statement read. “Those three schools are in Protestant, unionist and loyalist areas, therefore [anything] to do with those schools will now be considered as legitimate targets.

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“If the message is not taken on board by the community then trouble will commence on Monday morning and military action will also commence on Monday morning.”

The RHD has not been active for many years but during the late 1990s and 2000s, it claimed responsibility for the murder of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson and postal worker Daniel McColgan, among others.

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