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EDITIONS
 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 20:48 GMT
Loyalists behind dispute school bomb
Army bomb experts at Holy Cross Girls' Primary School
Army bomb experts defused the device
Loyalist paramilitaries have said they planted a pipe bomb device which was found at a north Belfast school, which was at the centre of a loyalist protest.

The device, which was discovered at Holy Cross Girls' Primary School shortly after 0800 GMT on Monday, was made safe by Army bomb disposal experts.

In a statement the Red Hand Defenders - a cover name used in the past by the Ulster Defence Association - said they left the device at the gates of the school.

Children made their way to the school on the Ardoyne Road using an alternative entrance.

Father Aidan Troy, from the school's board of governors, said it was "very disappointing that the new term at Holy Cross has started off in this way".

Father Aidan Troy
It very fortunate that the pipe bomb was discovered early this morning before any of the children had arrived at the school

Father Aidan Troy
Holy Cross governor

He said that it was "very fortunate that the pipe bomb was discovered early this morning before any of the children had arrived at the school".

Fr Troy said he hoped the attack was "a one-off".

Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said:"The New Year has only begun and already we have a disgraceful attack on children by some faction of the UDA."

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness described the attack as "completely cowardly".

"The repeated targeting of innocent children is simply vile and nothing can be gained from it," he said.

"It is saddening that when the situation had finally calmed down some people have taken it upon themselves to fan the flames of sectarian hatred in north Belfast."

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said it was a despicable act.

"What on earth any organisation hopes to gain by this sort of action is beyond all right-thinking people," he said.

"How on earth they can see that this advances any cause in any shape or form is without logic or common sense."

A community worker in the Glenbryn area called on those responsible for the pipe bomb to "come to their senses".

Mark Coulter, a former member of the local residents' committee, said: "Whoever is responsible for incidents like this, the bottom line is always the same."

Holy Cross School was at the centre of the protest which ended in November 2001.

The three-month protest by loyalist residents at the Ardoyne interface saw pupils of Holy Cross being escorted to and from the school by the security forces on a daily basis.

It ended after local Protestant residents were promised social improvements and new security measures.

Life on either side of the north Belfast interface is revealed in two documentaries for BBC Northern Ireland.

Interface - Ardoyne will be shown on BBC ONE Northern Ireland on Monday 6 January at 2235 GMT and Interface - Glenbryn being shown on Tuesday 7 January at the same time.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Fr Aidan Troy:
"The seriousness of the situation goes without saying"
  North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds
says it was a despicable act
  BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro:
"Police confirmed it was a pipebomb"
See also:

02 Sep 02 | N Ireland
27 Aug 02 | N Ireland
23 Aug 02 | N Ireland
12 Jun 02 | N Ireland
26 Nov 01 | N Ireland
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