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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Trouble flares at dispute school
Children and their parents were escorted by riot police
Children and their parents were escorted by riot police
There has been more trouble in north Belfast as Catholic children were again escorted to school in a Protestant area 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 along a cordon set up along the Ardoyne Road lined with police and army Land Rovers.

The school is situated near the small Protestant Glenbryn enclave in the mainly nationalist Ardoyne area.

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.

Tensions were high as children were brought to school
Tensions were high as children were brought to school
Other pupils took an alternative route to the school through the grounds of the nearby St Gabriel's Secondary School.

Meanwhile, loyalist residents who had been kept away from the school clashed with the police in the neighbouring Glenbryn estate.

A police officer was injured when a pipe bomb was thrown.

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.

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 Ardoyne.

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
At a meeting on Monday evening the governors of the school had urged parents to take their children by an alternative route and use the school's back entrance to avoid a repeat of the violence.

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.

"There was abuse. It was a lot easier than yesterday, but it will still frightening and these people are still out and they wont see sense in what they are doing."

Billy Hutchinson:
Billy Hutchinson: "I wouldn't bring a child here"
However, Billy Hutchinson, north Belfast assembly member for the Progressive Unionist Party, again accused the RUC of being heavy handed against Protestant residents.

"It is a total disgrace the way people are being treated in this area. They are being treated like animals. There is another alternative route to this school.

"We all have sympathy for these children. But the more it goes on the worse it gets. I have to say that I wouldn't bring a child through this. This is political point scoring for the IRA and Sinn Fein."

Meanwhile, SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness condemned the protest.

He said: "We have come so far, yet events like this highlight what lies just beneath the surface in Northern Ireland.

"But we cannot give up, we cannot allow those who want the past to return to succeed."

The BBC's Denis Murray
"The tension was just as high as yesterday"
The BBC's Jane Hughes
talks to local parent, Philomena Flood
David Ervine, Progressive Unionist Party
"I would be happy enough to see the protest end"
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
04 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Eyewitness: A second day of fear
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
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