Churchmen call for end to school intimidation


Anglican and Catholic churchmen today combined to call for an end to the violence and intimidation which has blighted a Belfast school.

A week of bitter sectarian confrontation has been played out outside the Holy Cross Catholic Girls Primary School in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, which at its peak saw a blast bomb explode near tearful Catholic children who ran the gauntlet through a loyalist area.

Today the Anglican Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Robin Eames emphasised the disgust felt by the vast majority of protestant residents of Northern Ireland at the week's events, and insisted that the children should no longer be subjected to such an ordeal.

"We are utterly revolted by those scenes outside the school. There is a wave of revulsion across this province ..." Archbishop Eames told BBC 1's Breakfast with Frostprogramme.

"From a church standpoint, I believe that we have two jobs. First of all to take the moral issue, the moral ground, which says that little children should never be subjected to this sort of attention. And secondly to make sure that the underlining causes of this, particularly in north Belfast, are now brought out and examined."

Roman Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Patrick Walsh, who earlier this week walked some of the girls to school, told the same programme: "I would hope that on Monday morning the residents of the estate, who have these grievances, that they will say to themselves `we have grievances, the Secretary of State has now put a process in place, we are going to use that process.'

"`That we have no grievance against the children, we have no grievance against the parents accompanying their children', and I would hope and pray that on Monday morning those children and their parents, [will have] no need for any supporters, that they would be free to walk in whatever way they wish to their school."