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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Peace wall for school dispute
Security force escort: A daily scenario
Security force escort: A daily scenario
Northern Ireland's security minister Jane Kennedy has announced another "peace line" security wall is to built in north Belfast close to Holy Cross Primary School.

The existing peaceline wall will be extended to separate Protestant Glenbryn Park and Catholic Alliance Avenue, which currently back onto each other.

Ms Kennedy said, however, that the Ardoyne Road - the scene of the daily protest by loyalist residents from Glenbryn outside Holy Cross Girls' Primary School - will remain open.

She rejected Protestant residents' requests for a permanent security gate to be built on the road.


If that gate was closed it would serve to isolate the community completely, essentially imprisoning it

Jane Kennedy MP

"I haven't been convinced that the erection of a gate that has been specifically asked for by the residents of Glenbryn would actually provide the increased security that they are seeking," she said.

Protestant residents from the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne have been protesting at the school for six weeks because of alleged attacks on their homes by republicans and the route the pupils take to the Catholic school.

'Sense of security'

Reacting to the move, North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said it would alleviate the sense of fear felt by Protestant residents.

However, PUP assembly member Billy Hutchinson called for Ms Kennedy to quit her post.

"The woman does not understand the problems in Northern Ireland, she should resign and go back to Liverpool," he said.

Ms Kennedy represents the Liverpool Wavertree constituency.

Mr Hutchinson claimed the minister did not understand that loyalist residents wanted a gate erected which would only be shut at night.

Protestant residents in the area also expressed frustration at the minister's failure to address their concerns.

Billy Hutchinson PUP
Billy Hutchinson: Called on the security minister to resign

Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne spokeswoman Anne Bill said the decision was absurd.

"She has said there will be no gate on the Ardoyne road due to the lack of cross community support, which is absurd when you think you have to go and ask the perpetrators of crimes now if you can have their permission for safety."

Ms Bill also welcomed the "frank exchange of views" with nationalist parents during talks on Tuesday.

Father Aidan Troy, chairman of the school's board of governors, said the move showed what state society in north Belfast was in.

Talks

There have been efforts in recent years to start removing the peace lines built throughout Belfast to forcibly separate the two communities during 30 years of the Troubles.

Meanwhile, the Head of Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission has been criticised by some of the parents of the Holy Cross pupils after he came to observe the protest and security operation to ensure the pupils' safety on Wednesday afternoon.

After the protest, the parents confronted Professor Brice Dickson and said they were angry he had not walked along the route with them.

The protests at Holy Cross have been relatively peaceful following violent scenes at the school in the first week of September, but the residents have maintained daily whistle and placard protests.

The commission is expected to make a statement on the situation on Friday.

Earlier on Wednesday, a number of Protestant pensioners living in the Glenbryn area received threatening letters about the protests from republicans.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Denis Murray
"It is all relatively peaceful but tensions remain high"
Jane Kennedy, Northern Ireland security minister
explains why she rejected requests for a permanent security gate
Elaine Burns, mother of two pupils at the school
"This has come too late from Jane Kennedy"
See also:

10 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Letter threats over school dispute
07 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Renewed call to end school protest
01 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Ministers tackle north Belfast violence
08 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid 'hopeful' on dispute school talks
04 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Churches appeal for school protests end
06 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Ardoyne school dispute: Parents' dilemma
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