Police patrolled outside three Catholic schools in north Belfast this week after an alleged loyalist threat of “military action” against pupils.
It has been claimed the threat was issued by the Red Hand Defenders, a loyalist paramilitary group based in Northern Ireland.
The paramilitary group said parents, pupils and staff were “no longer welcome at the three schools” which it considered “legitimate targets”.
The schools were Holy Cross Girls’ Primary on Ardoyne Road, Mercy Primary on Crumlin Road and Mercy College, off Ballysillan Road.
The PSNI have urged local community leaders to play “an active role in diffusing tension”.
A statement continued: “Police are aware of a threat that has been made in relation to a number of schools in north Belfast. The threat was made through a third party on Friday, September 6, 2013. Investigations into the threat are ongoing. At this stage there is no evidence to corroborate the threat,” the PSNI said.
Condemning the threat, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said: “This is a disgraceful and sinister statement to come from any organisation or individual against school children, their parents and teachers.”
“We must now see unionist and loyalist leaders coming out and condemning these threats in the strongest possible terms, call on the Red Hand Defenders to withdraw this threat and actively support the rights of any child to attend any school of their choice where ever it may be situated and receive their education without fear or intimidation,” he said.