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Daily E-mail News Ticker Mobiles P D As Feed back Help Low Graphics Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK Church plea over dispute school Children were escorted to school by riot police Church leaders in Northern Ireland have called for an end to a loyalist protest over the route Catholic children take to school in a Protestant area, which has resulted in sectarian clashes.
There was trouble for the second day running in north Belfast as children were again escorted to school by police amid tight security. It flared as the security forces kept Protestant protesters away from the Holy Cross Girls' Primary School.
About 60 children were escorted to the front gates by police in riot gear through a cordon set up along the Aerodyne Road which was lined with police and army Land Rovers.
Church of Ireland Primate Dr Robin E a m e s has condemned the violent scenes. Speaking on Tuesday, he said: "Throughout the Troubles, schools of all denominations have been havens.
Children have been secure there. Tensions were high as children were brought to school "And now to see children sucked into our Troubles in this way is absolutely deplorable.
"I utterly condemn this sort of action against innocent little children." The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, said the dispute must end.
He said he had been "reassured to hear the other church leaders speak so powerfully about this situation".
"It is very important that we should speak strongly at this present time and call a halt to this. It must stop." A series of similar protests by loyalists were held in June because of alleged attacks on the Protestant community in the area.
Nationalist and loyalist residents were involved in fierce rioting in July during tensions raised by the protests.
The school is situated near the small Protestant Glen Bryn enclave in the mainly nationalist Aerodyne area. On Tuesday, as the children walked along the 400 yard cordon they were met with angry shouts from Protestant residents as they passed the mainly loyalist Hesketh Park area.
David Trimble: Call for special forum Other pupils took an alternative route to the school through the grounds of the nearby St Gabriel's Secondary School.
Loyalist residents who had been kept away from the school clashed with the police in the neighboring Glen Bryn estate.
A police officer was injured when a pipe bomb was thrown. Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, said the scenes at the school were appalling and totally unacceptable.
Mr Trimble also called for a special forum to be established in an effort to end the protests. On Monday, there was trouble on the first day of the autumn term as the terrified pupils, some as young as four, were caught up in an angry confrontation near the front gates of the school.
There were widespread disturbances near the school on Monday night as rival gangs of nationalists and loyalists attacked security force patrols in A r d o y n e.
The RUC said 21 officers were injured in the trouble and shots were fired in the loyalist Hesketh Road area and also on the Limestone Road from a nationalist area.
Houses on both sides of the community were also attacked. It was terrifying. I still felt frightened for the children.
It seemed as if we were being herded up the road like cattle by the police Parent Philomena Flood On Tuesday, one of the parents, Philomena Flood, said she decided to walk the route to see the situation for herself - but without her daughter.
"It was terrifying. I still felt frightened for the children. It seemed as if we were being herded up the road like cattle by the police," she said. Meanwhile, the MP for the area, the D U P's Nigel Dodd's, who witnessed the violence, accused police of wading into protestors.
Billy Hutchinson, north Belfast assembly member for the Progressive Unionist Party, also accused the R U C of being heavy handed against Protestant residents. S D L P assembly member Alban Mugginess condemned the protest.
ON THIS STORY The BBC's Rachel Ellison "Hundreds of soldiers lined the Aerodyne Road"
The BBC's Jane Hughes talks to local parent, Philomena Flood
David Ervin, Progressive Unionist Party "I would be happy enough to see the protest end"
FORUM NI sectarianism You questions answered live at 1345 BST
New mood on school run Bus offer shunned Peaceful school run Anger over police Eyewitness Hatred amid the hope Bomb blast at school Parents' dilemma Clashes at school Analysis Behind nationalist lines Decades of conflict The cost on children School dispute Q&A Opposing views FORUM
Your questions answered TALKING POINT
Should children be used in political battles? SPECIAL REPORTS
Bloody Sunday Inquiry Reforming the Police Deadlock in Northern Ireland? The Search for Peace AUDIO VIDEO
BBC TV highlights
See also: 03 Sep 01 |
Northern Ireland Fresh violence in Belfast 03 Sep 01 |
Northern Ireland No agreement on school route 03 Sep 01 |
Northern Ireland Eyewitness: Sectarian clashes at school 03 Sep 01 |
Northern Ireland Tensions high after school protest 02 Aug 01 |
Northern Ireland Mayor calls meeting over riots 02 Aug 01 |
Northern Ireland Arsonists target Catholic Church 31 Jul 01 |
Northern Ireland Loyalist violence threat to peace Internet links: R U C S D L P P U P The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites Top
Northern Ireland stories now: Contentious marches get go-ahead Man and child injured in shooting Child dies in farm accident Three charged over Drum Cree violence Gang shoots man in leg Illegal fuel plant seized Drum Cree violence 'unacceptable' Legal move over plastic bullets Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.