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Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Priest likens Holy Cross to Afghanistan
Pupils return home from school with security escort
Fr Aidan Troy says the protests cannot go on
The priest at the centre of the Holy Cross dispute has said Afghanistan is the only other country in the world where girls are stopped from being educated.

Fr Aidan Troy made his comments during mass at Holy Cross Church on Sunday morning.

He said the time had now come to say enough was enough.

Residents of the Protestant Glenbryn estate in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast have been protesting for six weeks against Catholic children walking to the Holy Cross girls' primary school.

'Pressure'

Father Troy said the protest aimed at preventing girls from walking to the school through their area had to stop.


When children are there it is not possible, morally, to do that any longer

Father Aidan Troy

He said he would be putting pressure on people at all levels for the protests to cease.

"If it is not possible for our leaders to do that, then let them stand up and take responsibility for that situation," he said.

"We cannot allow and I certainly cannot stand by for a seventh week and say: 'How are the talks going?'

"No. When children are there it is not possible, morally, to do that any longer."

Last week, the Protestant residents offered to end their protests at Holy Cross if children were bused to the school.

As the dispute is set to enter its seventh week, the group representing the protesters proposed that the pupils should be taken by bus up the Ardyone Road into the Protestant area where the school lies.

They said their proposal would stop the situation in the area getting worse.

The pupils have been escorted to school every day by the police past protesting loyalists.

The protest has been relatively peaceful in recent weeks, but it erupted into serious violence in September.

'Compromise'

Tensions whipped up by the dispute have spilled onto the streets of north Belfast at night in recent weeks.

The Protestant residents say they are protesting because of attacks on their homes by republicans from the larger Catholic community in Ardoyne.

They said their offer involved pupils and children using Belfast Education and Library Board buses to take the Ardoyne Road route.

The group said this would protect the children's rights and lift the "fear and intimidation" to which they have been intimidated.

Fr Troy said he did not believe the proposal would be supported by parents of children at the school.

The offer came after the head of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission urged north Belfast loyalists to stop intimidating Holy Cross schoolgirls.

The Northern Ireland Office has been trying to broker talks between the Catholic and Protestant residents of Ardoyne. So far one face-to-face meeting this term has been held.

New 'peaceline'

Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy has announced that the peaceline security wall in the area will be extended to try to create a feeling of security in the two communities.

The new wall will separate the loyalist Glenbryn estate, where Holy Cross school lies, from Catholic Alliance Avenue which backs onto it.

However, the residents of upper Ardoyne have said they want the security measures to go further and that a permanent security gate should be installed on the Ardoyne Road to separate the two communities at night.

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 ON THIS STORY
Holy Cross parish priest Father Aidan Troy:
" I certainly cannot stand by for a seventh week"
See also:

12 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Tensions at Belfast dispute school
11 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Peace wall for school dispute
01 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Ministers tackle north Belfast violence
04 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Church plea over dispute school
06 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Ardoyne school dispute: Parents' dilemma
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