Republican News · Thursday 5 October 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Catholic school children attacked

North Belfast schoolchildren travelling home from Our Lady of Mercy secondary school in the predominantly loyalist Silverstream area of North Belfast are being repeatedly targeted in sectarian attacks.

In the latest of a series of incidents, the bus carrying children from Our Lady's school was attacked by a mob of around 60 boys from the nearby Protestant Boys Model school.

At the junction of the Bilston and Ballysillan Roads, bricks were hurled through the windows of the bus, injuring a number of school girls and damaging the vehicle. Fearing for the safety of his passengers, the driver drove to nearby St. Gabriel's Catholic boy's school where the children were brought inside for ``shelter and treatment.''

Eight pupils were taken to the Mater hospital where they were treated for shock and a number of minor injuries. The riotous behaviour of pupils attending the Boys Model school had already led to City Bus suspending their service from the school.

``Their own bus was taken off them because they were so badly behaved and then they attacked our bus,'' said one pupil from Our Lady.

The attack, which took place around 4pm on Tuesday 4 October, was the third sectarian attack inflicted on children travelling on the bus to the Catholic girls school in a week. In an earlier incident, a gang of boys pulled the doors off the bus in an attempt to get inside the vehicle.

In a statement Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said that it was, ``incumbent on leaders of the Protestant community to do all in their power to prevent these attacks on school children''.

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