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SERVICES 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 10:38 GMT
Dispute school run passes peacefully
Parents and pupils walked to the school without incident
Parents and pupils at a school in north Belfast in the centre of a loyalist dispute have made their way to the school without incident.

A huge security presence was maintained on the route to the Catholic Holy Cross Girls' Primary School in Ardoyne on Tuesday where Protestant residents have been staging a dispute since the start of the school year in September.

The protesters claim their homes are being attacked by the larger Catholic community in the area.

Parents walked their children to the school over a 30 minute period instead of waiting for a group escort as has previously been the case.

Child clinging to her mother on way to school
The ongoing dispute has been a traumatic experience for pupils

On Monday, tensions were high in the area as the police operation, believed to involve 400 officers and soldiers, was criticised by both nationalist and loyalist communities.

Catholic parents said they had felt exposed as they made their way in small groups to the school.

Protestant residents said their goodwill gesture in scaling down the protest last week had been ignored.

Monday's tension followed weekend riots in the area where a 16-year-old Protestant boy was killed when a crude device exploded in his hand.

In contrast, Tuesday's school run took place in a more relaxed atmosphere as loyalist protesters remained silent.

During the protests, parents and their children have been escorted by police along the route to the school through the Protestant Glenbryn estate.

The operation has been costing about 50,000 a day, draining the new police service of finance and manpower.

The increased police presence, which represents one eighth of the total force in Belfast - will double the bill.

Last week, after talks with the loyalist residents of Glenbryn, the police presence was scaled down and officers removed riot shields and helmets.

See also:

12 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Dispute school security criticised
24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Holy Cross School: Hatred amid the hope
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