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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Holy Cross protest - press review
Taking cover on way to school
Taking cover but what of the coverage?
The image of children facing a barrage of abuse as they try to go to school in north Belfast has brought Northern Ireland's sectarian problems into focus in newspapers across the world.

The protests and security operation around Holy Cross primary school have brought sharp responses from the two daily Belfast newspapers the Irish News and the Newsletter, which represent the Catholic and Protestant communities respectively.

Sanity has got to prevail if north Belfast is to again become a place where peoples of differing religions and politics can peaceably co-exist.


During previous political turmoil the newspapers have been fairly united in their views on the events and on the way ahead.

In Wednesday's editorials they both say that the violence is unacceptable and are pleased that churchmen on both sides are calling for reason and calm.

The Newsletter points the finger of blame at the Catholic community.

It says that republicans in Ardoyne are prepared to use young children in pursuit of a narrow sectarian agenda.

It praises the school governors for recommending the children take an alternative route to school and regrets that all parents did not heed this advice.

"Regrettably, it would appear there are some elements on the nationalist/republican side in Ardoyne who, by adamantly insisting on having the children brought through the Glenbryn estate against vociferous opposition from the residents, may not be at all sympathetically disposed to a compromise solution which takes full cognisance of the rights of everyone in the dispute".

The Irish News warns that sectarianism is not confined to one area and warns that violence and anger can spill over into other areas.

It describes the scenes at the school as disgraceful.

It too praises the church leaders for speaking out with one voice against the disturbing scenes.

The Irish News also talks of the revulsion and disgust being felt around the world at the shocking images from Ardoyne.

"Immeasurable damage has been caused to community relations and to young minds but it is vital that every effort is made to restore calm and genuine attempts made to resolve this very difficult situation".

Worldwide too there have been comments on the protest.

The Washington Post laments Northern Ireland's inability to make political progress because of ever existing sectarianism.

"The persistence of this type of enmity helps explain why the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, which seeks to end 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland, has been so hard to implement.

"Almost every time the peace process takes a step forward, some riot or murder or fracas in a city neighbourhood pops up to sour the mood on both sides.

"Images of frightened students escorted to school by troops stir vivid memories for Americans, and the comparison has not been lost on the British.

"Belfast today looks like Little Rock, or Mississippi," BBC television reporter Ken Reid told his audience, referring to key events in the US civil rights movement.

"But in America, that's history. Northern Ireland is living it now."

In the European press the story also featured.

Germany's Die Welt says that events like this protest make mainland Britons squirm with disgust.

"Northern Ireland - finished!" reads the headline over a commentary in Berlin's Die Welt.

The paper says that "religious bigotry once again reared its ugly head" when children on their way to a Catholic school had to be escorted past "screaming, threatening, spitting" loyalists.

Such events, it adds, make mainland Britons and everyone else from further afield "squirm with disgust".

Quoting a recent opinion poll, the paper points out that Britons who want Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom are now outnumbered by those who would rather see it become part of the Republic of Ireland.

"The ties between these two parts of the union have thus long been severed, and this most recent riot of bigotry is likely to confirm this," the paper concludes.

Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

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