Irish Republican News · January 19, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Catholic schools targeted

Two north Belfast Catholic schools were at the centre of bomb alerts today which were blamed on the unionist paramilitary UDA.

A device was found lying close to Holy Cross Primary School shortly before seven o'clock this morning, but it was later declared a hoax. The alert was over by the time classes began.

Holy Cross school was the subject of a three-month campaign of intimidation and violence in 2001. School girls were forced to run a gauntlet of insults and missiles including one blast bomb hurled by loyalists from behind police lines. Since then, it has routinely targeted for sectarian attack.

The incident at Holy Cross Primary came two days after another alert at the school when a number of suspicious objects were found in the school grounds.

Hoax devices found on Saturday, had been thrown over the school fenc, prompting another alert.

Chairman of the Holy Cross' board of governors, Father Aiden Troy, said he was ``deeply saddened'' by the incidents.

``Haven't these children suffered enough?'', he said.

``I feel the same about today's alert as I do about those on Saturday. They are just aimed at causing maximum disruption.

``These people are not only disrupting the pupils of Holy Cross but also Wheatfield Primary School,'' Fr Troy added.

In a separate incident, parts of Saint Gabriel's College, on the Crumlin Road, were sealed off Monday morning after a suspect device was found in the grounds.

North Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Kathy Stantondscribed the incidents as the latest instalments in what has been a long campaign against Catholics in this area.

``Nationalists in areas like North Belfast are sick and tired of the phoney debate over the status of the UDA cessation. The reality is that the UDA is not on cessation and has not been on cessation for some time. They have remained engaged in a violent campaign against Catholics despite repeated announcements of cessations and initiatives.

``The British government has tolerated the UDA campaign for years. Its agencies control and operate agents within the leadership of this organisation, yet the violence and disruption is allowed to continue.''

  • The loyalist Red Hand Defenders group, a cover name used by the UDA, has claimed it was responsible for recent attacks on the homes of Sinn Féin members. Ball bearings have been fired at the homes of a number of republicans in the past three weeks.

  • A number of houses were evacuated in County Down following the discovery of a pipebomb type device close to the home of a prison officer in an attack also blamed on unionist paramilitaries. Another device was left outside the Prison Officers' Training College, also in County Down.

  • An independent member of Cookstown's District Policing Partnership was the target of an early morning bomb attack at his home, which has been blamed on dissident republicans. No-one was injured when a crude device exploded in their front garden damaging a car.
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    © 2004 Irish Republican News