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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
School protestors criticise Reid
The Northern Ireland Secretary has been criticised by protesters involved in the Holy Cross dispute for his anti-sectarianism speech.

John Reid quoted the ongoing protest at the Catholic school in a Protestant area of north Belfast at Wednesday's Labour Party Conference in an address which promised legislation to tackle sectarianism.

However, Protestant residents in Ardoyne said he was wrong to imply their picket was motivated by sectarian hatred

The security operation at the school, where school children are escorted through protesting residents, is costing 20,000 a day.

The bill since the start of September is in the region of 750,000.

Stuart McCartney Upper Ardoyne Concerned Residents
Stuart McCartney: "Dr Reid did not listen to our concerns"

The demonstration has been silent as the children make their way past protestors along the Ardoyne Road, since initial protests in September resulted in a blast bomb being thrown.

However, residents have continued to blow whistles and shout abuse as the parents returned back down the Ardoyne Road.

After a 90-minute meeting with Dr Reid, Upper Ardoyne Concerned Residents spokesman Stuart McCartney said he was unhappy about their reception.

"We communicated what our fears and concerns were and the bottom line is that he did not listen," he said.

"He basically tarred everybody in this community with the one brush and said that we all hate Catholics.

"That is not the issue."

Mediation

However, Father Aidan Troy, of the Holy Cross board of governors said people should look at Dr Reid's proposals as being applicable to all sides of the community.

"I felt that he was picking one example and saying this is the type of thing that happens," said Fr Troy.

"But I would hope that we would all recognise that wherever this happens, on which ever side of the divide it happens that the same legislation will apply."

Facilitators are working behind the scenes to set up face to face talks between the protestors and the parents.

However a statement issued by the Glenbryn residents on Thursday said nothing had yet been agreed.

The residents have been protesting at the school because of alleged attacks on their homes.

The dispute started in June, but a series of attempts to start talks between the two groups over the summer broke up in mutual recrimination.

See also:

19 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Seven charged over school protest
12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
School dispute pupils pray for US victims
08 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid 'hopeful' on dispute school talks
31 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist violence threat to peace
04 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Churches appeal for school protests end
06 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Ardoyne school dispute: Parents' dilemma
05 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Eyewitness: Bomb blast at school
17 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
School protest resumes
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