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Friday, 12 October, 2001, 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK
Tensions at Belfast dispute school
Holy Cross parents expressed their anger during stand-off
Holy Cross parents expressed their anger during stand-off
Tensions surrounding the Holy Cross school dispute have spilled over into a confrontation between Catholic and Protestant residents in north Belfast.

The security forces moved into north Belfast on Thursday evening after an incident on the Ardoyne Road.

It happened during a meeting of Holy Cross Girls' Primary School parents at a local community centre.

About 100 parents were hearing details of face-to-face discussions with residents from the neighbouring Protestant Glenbryn estate held earlier this week.

The talks were aimed at ending the six weeks of protests by loyalists at the school.

Local politicians and chairman of Holy Cross School's board of governor's Father Aidan Troy also attended.

But after about an hour, the meeting was interrupted when news emerged that a stand-off had begun on the Ardoyne Road between the Catholic and Protestant areas.

North Belfast Presbyterian Minister Norman Hamilton went to the Ardoyne Road to try to defuse the situation.

He spoke to both Protestant and Catholic residents who were kept apart by police lines.

Mr Hamilton said he was frustrated by what had happened, and added: "What has come to me today is the deep anguish in both communities. I haven't felt that for some time".

On Thursday evening the Presbyterian Church, as a whole, called for an end to the Holy Cross protest.

In a statement the Church also appealed for violence and harassment in all interface areas between the two communities in all area of Belfast to stop.

Security wall to be extended

The latest events on the road came after the government announced that the peace line security wall is to be extended in the area.

Unionist and loyalist politicians including North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds have also asked the government to reconsider its decision not to erect a security gate on the Ardoyne Road.

The DUP MP said there had been a widespread welcome from the Protestant community for the government's decision to build another peaceline, extending the security wall between the two communities in the area.

But he said the "job is going to be left half finished unless the problem of the Ardoyne Road itself is addressed".

Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy announced on Wednesday that she had ordered the building of a new peaceline, to separate Protestant Glenbryn Park and Catholic Alliance Avenue, which back onto each other.

She made the announcement in response to residents' concerns about attacks on their homes and after consulting the police.

Residents' request rejected

But Ms Kennedy rejected Protestant residents' requests for a permanent security gate to be built on the Ardoyne Road which has been the scene of the daily protest by loyalist Glenbryn residents outside Holy Cross Girls' Primary School.

The security forces have been escorting the pupils of Holy Cross past the loyalist protesters along the Ardoyne Road from the Catholic area into the Protestant Glenbryn area, where the school lies, every day for six weeks.

A gate would separate the Catholic school from the Catholic area and isolate the Protestant Glenbryn area from the shops, post office and amenities of Catholic Ardoyne.

But PUP assembly member Billy Hutchinson said Jane Kennedy did not understand that loyalist residents wanted a gate erected which would only be shut at night to prevent attacks on Glenbryn.

The Northern Ireland Office and executive politicians have been involved in efforts to get a talks process started.

The BBC's Denis Murray
"Day after day it goes on"
See also:

11 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Peace wall for school dispute
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
03 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Ardoyne Stories: Peace lines and division
04 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Ardoyne stories: Behind nationalist lines
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