Holy Cross drama to be screened tomorrow

A new television drama based on loyalist intimidation and violence against schoolgirls and their families at Holy Cross Primary School in north Belfast has sparked a controversy.

The drama, which will be aired on BBC1 on Monday November 10 at 9pm, uses fictional characters and is intended to depict the `corridor of hate'. For months, Catholic schoolgirls and their parents were forced to walk through a gauntlet of sectarian abuse and pipe bombs with little or no protection from British `security' forces.

The situation has been compared to the civil rights campaign in the southern U.S.

But there were concerns that the drama would artifically attempt to ``balance out'' the situation by depicting the two communities as two sides of the same coin.

Loyalist community worker Jim Potts, who watched a special screening last night, said the drama was ``fairly balanced''.

The programme focuses on two 10-year-old girls, one Catholic and one Protestant, who live back to back from each other in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast.

The show focuses on the violence through the eyes of the children and the way it affected and traumatised them - many are still having counselling.

Father Aidan Troy of the Holy Cross school, the priest who bravely resisted pressure on him to take the children to school through a back entrance, said there was ``a very high degree of apprehension'' among local people.

He said: ``It is just too raw ... The suspension of the protest only came on 23 November 2001. The children at the school are the same children. The families are the same families. And the protesters are the same protesters. Lots of parents are saying this programme could cause big trouble yet.''

The programme makers admitted they filmed the drama in Liverpool, rather than Belfast, because of ``heightened sensitivities''.

It can be seen on RTE this Saturday [tomorrow] and on BBC 1 on Monday, November 10, at 9pm.

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