Ardoyne Belfast PSNI
A slogan on a wall reading 'PSNI Not Welcome in Ardoyne' is pictured on a brick wall in north Belfast Getty

A bomb was been discovered outside the gates of a Catholic primary school in Northern Ireland.

Police have said the device was placed by dissident Republicans in an attempt to disrupt the community and kill police officers in a "reckless" act of violence.

It was found by a passing police patrol on Sunday (23 April) near the Holy Cross Boys' Primary School in the district of Ardoyne, north-west Belfast – an area synonymous with The Troubles.

The residents of 20 homes were evacuated for several hours as a bomb squad was tasked with disarming the device.

Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said the bomb was "sizeable" and that it needlessly placed the lives of innocent people at risk.

"It's a very significant device more than capable of causing death and serious injury," he said, reported the Press Association.

"There's no doubt that device was there to try and kill community police officers on the beat in their local area, but also it was left in such a reckless manner and in such a reckless location that it would undoubtedly have led to the death or serious injury of a member of the public had it exploded anywhere near them.

"This is an attempt, we believe, by violent dissident republicans to kill police officers but it was also very much an 'anti-community act' as well, in terms of where it was located and the way in which it was left."

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, condemned the act in a statement following the bomb's discovery.

"I am sickened by this incident with dissident republican terrorists placing a bomb close to a primary school in north Belfast," he said.

"This shows their wanton disregard for human life, potentially putting children in danger.

"The consequences could have been utterly devastating and it shows them for what they really are. I am grateful to the emergency services for their work in keeping people safe."

Sinn Féin, the Republican party of Northern Ireland, also condemned those who left the device.

Gerry Kelly, North Belfast's Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), told the BBC: "Those who are involved in this need to get off the people's backs and they need to go away.

"The message is as simple and straightforward as that. We could have been dealing with death here, thankfully, we're not."