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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 22:52 GMT
'Helpful' meeting over Holy Cross
Buses were made available to pupils and parents
Buses were made available to pupils and parents
A meeting between politicians and members of the board of governors at Holy Cross primary school in north Belfast has been described as "helpful".

Led by the chairman of the board, Father Aidan Troy, they met with the first and deputy first ministers David Trimble and Mark Durkan at Stormont on Tuesday afternoon.

Fr Troy said he was "cautiously optimistic" and called for comprehensive action to resolve the dispute.


The protest must end and I think that is one of the great hopes for everybody that if, as seems possible now, that protest ends, then we will begin to see a lot of other work

Father Aidan Troy

Fr Troy praised the first and deputy first ministers.

"Certainly they seem to be very well aware of what is happening in our particular area," he said.

"I got the impression that should the protest end, I think that there's a lot of work that is going to come into play very, very quickly.

"The protest must end and I think that is one of the great hopes for everybody that if, as seems possible now, that protest ends, then we will begin to see a lot of other work."

Resolution

Meanwhile, a delegation of residents from the loyalist Glenbryn area of north Belfast met officials from the Northern Ireland executive at Stormont on Tuesday as part of the latest attempt to find a solution to the dispute.

They have been protesting outside the Catholic girls' school since the beginning of term in September.

The meeting was chaired by the North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

Also present were North Belfast assembly members Billy Hutchinson of the Progressive Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Nelson McCausland.

On Thursday, Glenbryn residents are due to meet David Trimble and Mark Durkan at Stormont.

Buses

Earlier on Tuesday, only a few parents and children used a bus provided by an education authority to get to school.

The Belfast Education and Library Board made two buses available for the pupils.

The use of buses is part of what the parents previously said was "a normalisation of the situation" because they had not wanted to keep their children waiting in the cold for the daily security force escort to school.

Many of the parents chose to walk to the school
Many of the parents chose to walk to the school

The board supplied two buses to ferry the pupils along the Ardoyne Road from 0840 GMT until 0920 GMT.

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

The police said the parents and children could still walk up the Ardoyne Road if they wanted to.

On Tuesday morning, some children and their parents got onto the bus.

But other parents said they were annoyed because they had not been informed that the buses had been made available.

And many said they were determined to keep walking past the protesting loyalist residents in the Protestant Glenbryn area, where the school is situated, as a matter of principle.

Meeting

Billy Hutchinson, who stood with the Glenbryn residents on Tuesday morning, welcomed the bus move as a positive development.

The police bill for the operation is 100,000 a day, money that is having to be found from elsewhere in the security budget.

Father Aidan Troy asked the man to stop refusing food
Father Aidan Troy asked the man to stop refusing food

On Monday, it emerged that a split had occurred in the loyalist group.

The BBC understands that as many as five committee members from the Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne may have resigned.

They are believed to include Stuart McCartney and Jim Potts, who have been regular spokesmen for the group.

Meanwhile, a 31-year-old man has said he is so frustrated by events at the school that he intends to refuse food until a resolution to the Holy Cross dispute is found.

The father of two children said he stopped eating at midnight last Wednesday.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Annita McVeigh
reports
See also:

14 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Ministers to tackle Holy Cross dispute
09 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Protesters resume school dispute
13 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Dispute school run passes peacefully
12 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Dispute school security criticised
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