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Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Head to head: North Belfast riots
An attempt at mediation during the clashes
An attempt at mediation during the clashes
Tensions are high at a north Belfast interface after overnight sectarian violence in which police officers were injured.

Loyalists and nationalists clashed with the police and there was a standoff outside a Catholic Primary School.

Billy Hutchinson of the loyalist PUP and Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly are Northern Ireland Assembly members for the area, but are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. They give their views on the situation.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein

Up here, where these Catholics live, there have been attacks all through the year and particularly over the last number of months building up to the Drumcree situation.

There was petrol bombings, there were blast bombs thrown, there were shots fired last night at Catholics in the area.

The only way this can be resolved is through dialogue

That's what these people have to face all the time. Now they are going to have to face the fact that their children cannot go to school.

Forget all the other arguments. Forget the excuses.

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

The issue is whether the Good Friday Agreement works on the ground here and which is: Can Catholic children go to a Catholic school?

Are the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) going to make a statement saying it is perfectly safe for the children to go to this school?

The only way this can be resolved is through dialogue.

Billy Hutchinson, Progressive Unionist Party

The UDA or no-one else in this area stops the children going to school.

The children are quite entitled to go to school. The children were able to go to school.

The difficulty here is that a compromise was put to people yesterday (Wednesday) that children could go to school with their parents in the mornings.

When a compromise was made people attacked this area

We have a week left, and let's get it sorted out all over the summer.

While all of this was going on - the negotiations with the people from this area and the people from the other part of Ardoyne - there were mass numbers of people outside on the Crumlin Road from the nationalist community, trying to intimidate Protestants in this area.

We were organising a venue for a public meeting for them to report back. What happened? Three hundred and fifty nationalists/republicans attacked us.

When a compromise was made, people attacked this area.

Does that sound like people wanting to accept a compromise?

What we have to do today is, we have to resolve this.

I want Sinn Fein to get real; to recognise that there are people in their community who come up here and give people sectarian abuse and people are not prepared to stand for it any longer.

We need to make sure the children get to school and get home from school safely.

See also:

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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