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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 20:44 GMT
Legal action over Holy Cross row
Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Holy Cross pupils on Wednesday
Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Holy Cross pupils
The mother of a pupil at Holy Cross school where loyalists are holding daily protests is taking court action against the police and government.

The parent, who has not been identified, has instructed solicitors Madden and Finucane to begin court proceedings because of concerns over her seven-year-old daughter's health and safety.

In an affidavit she said the police had "failed to identify, arrest or prosecute those protestors breaking the law in full public view" at Holy Cross Girls' Primary School in Ardoyne.

The woman also said the "failure" by the police and government to act "has allowed the violence against the children to continue".


This cannot go on any longer. We have tried everything to stop these attacks on our children to no avail

Holy Cross parent

The security forces have been escorting pupils to the school past loyalist protesters along the Ardoyne Road since the beginning of term in September.

But the parent's solicitors said: "The parent states that the violent protesters have been allowed to get within touching distance of the children and parents."

They added that the legal proceedings had been started "as a last resort".

The solicitors relayed the mother's comment: "This cannot go on any longer. We have tried everything to stop these attacks on our children to no avail."

They added that the action was being seen by other Holy Cross parents as a test case.

'Children are pawns'

Meanwhile, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Holy Cross school on Wednesday, where he met children, staff and parents.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner also met loyalist residents and a number of political representatives from north Belfast.


There may be reasons on both sides, but it is such a distressing feature of it that the children have been pawns through it

Archbishop Tutu
Archbishop Tutu said he was confident the situation could be resolved but he said it had been a distressing situation to watch.

He said: "All of us around the world we have been very distressed at what has been happening here.

"There may be reasons on both sides, but it is such a distressing feature of it that the children have been pawns through it."

Father Aidan Troy:
Father Troy: Appealed for an end to the dispute

On Wednesday, chairman of the Holy Cross Board of governors Father Aidan Troy appealed to those involved in the protest to show consideration to the schoolchildren as they sit their 11-plus exam on Friday.

However, a spokesman for the Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne, Jim Potts, said the objective of the protest remained the achievement of a safe and stable environment for the Protestant community.

Protestant residents from the Glenbryn area, where the school is situated, say they have been holding protests to try to highlight attacks on their community by republicans from the larger Catholic population in Ardoyne.

Security arrangements were relaxed at the school this week after Protestant residents reached an understanding with the police at the weekend.

The protesters have been standing slightly back from the security cordon allowing officers not to wear riot gear and the noisy horn and whistle protest was ended.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Rosy Billingham reports on
Archbishop Tutu's visit to north Belfast
Father Aidan Troy:
"Legal action is proceeding to seek a judicial review"
Protestant residents' spokesman Jim Potts:
"The protest's objective is for a safe and stable environment for the Protestant community"
See also:

06 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Complaints over Holy Cross policing
15 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
New move urged over school dispute
12 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Buses offer to end school protest
14 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Priest likens Holy Cross to Afghanistan
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