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Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Ongoing Belfast tension condemned
Mediators: Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly and PUP's Billy Hutchinson
Political leaders in the area say the other side is to blame
Political and religious representatives in north Belfast have said the continued unrest in Ardoyne is creating a great deal of distress and apprehension.

The Progressive Unionist Party assembly member for the area said that attempts to resolve the ongoing unrest had been rejected by nationalists.

Billy Hutchinson said moves to find a solution to a standoff which has prevented Catholic children attending a primary school in Ardoyne had been rejected by republicans.

"The children are quite entitled to go to school," he said.


This is what these people have to face all the time and now they have to face the fact their children are not allowed to go to school

Gerry Kelly MLA

"The difficulty here is that a compromise was put to people that children could go to school with their parents in the mornings, but no-one from the nationalist community came back."

But Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said that the paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association were keeping Catholic children away from an education.

"Petrol bombs and blast bombs have been thrown and shots have been fired at Catholics in this area," he said.

"This is what these people have to face all the time and now they have to face the fact their children are not allowed to go to school.

"What we are dealing with here are young primary school kids who are not allowed go to school because they are Catholics."

SDLP assemblyman for the area Alban Maginness said the unrest was a direct result of the continuing political instabiltiy in the province.

'Sinister elements'

Mr Maginness is to meet Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy at Castle Buildings to discuss the rioting.

"One has to arrive at a political accommodation, these matters cannot be resolved confrontationally.

"You cannot have victory of one community over another," he said.

"We live in a deeply divided society and the only solution to our divisions is to work together and for politicians to work together."

Newly elected MP for the area, the Democratic Unionist Party's Nigel Dodds, said that sinister elements in the community were responsible for the violence.

"I would appeal for anyone who has any influence whatsoever in the community or political level to use their influence to try and restore calm as quickly as possible.

"It is a very sinister development and it is extremely worrying."

'Distress'

The new security minister Jane Kennedy, condemned the rioting and has urged local representatives to use their influence to resolve the situation.

"The sight of large groups of thugs throwing petrol bombs and missiles at the police will have sickened all decent people in Northern Ireland.

"The people of North Belfast have to decide what kind of community they want to live in. A place where different traditions live together, or a place where children cannot go to school, young thugs are allowed to run riot, and the security forces are subjected to viscious assaults."

Ballysillan Presbyterian minister, Reverend Norman Hamilton, said there was a great deal of distress and apprehension in the community.

"One lady asked me this morning if the peace process breaks down will it be like this all the time, and that is one of the underlying fears."

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See also:

21 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Police injured in sectarian riots
19 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Riot police called to school attack
20 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Police keep factions apart
15 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Clashes at Orange parade
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