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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
School dispute appeal dismissed
Ardoyne protest
The protest at the school lasted for three months
Five years after violent scenes outside a north Belfast primary school, the Court of Appeal has endorsed the way police handled loyalist protesters.

Two judges dismissed the case brought by the mother of a child at Holy Cross Primary School over police handling of the dispute on the Ardoyne Road.

She said police should have pushed loyalist protesters away from the road.

But judges said that if police had done so, there would have been a risk of trauma or injury to school children.

The three-month protest in 2001 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.

The mother who brought the legal challenge was known only as "E" because she feared for her life if her name was divulged.


In June 2004, Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr dismissed her application for a judicial review of police handling of the dispute.

At the same time, he described the dispute as "one of the most shameful and disgraceful episodes in recent history".

In a reserved judgement on Tuesday, Lord Justice Campbell, sitting with Lord Justice Sheil, said: "This court and any objective observer could only agree with this comment."

"The objective in policing the protest was to allow the children to get to school in safety and to pursue their education," he said.

"The appellant and others wished to see the police confront the protesters and presumably use force to drive them back from Ardoyne Road."

The judge said a police superintendent had told the school principal that if the children had been adults going to work he might have been disposed to push the protesters back.

However, in dealing with young children, he had serious concerns that they could be traumatised or injured.

Lord Justice Campbell concluded: "Although we have differed form the trial judge on some aspects of issues raised in the appeal, we are satisfied that he was correct to refuse the application for judicial review and the appeal is therefore dismissed."

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