Nationalists have criticised the dismissal of a court case taken against the PSNI over their role in the Holy Cross School blockade.
The infamous scenes of young schoolgirls forced to endure a gauntlet of naked hatred, abuse and violence while the PSNI looked on made international headlines in 2001. For three months, sectarian intimidation continued unabated at the school, while pressure was placed on Catholic families to take their children to school by a back door.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr, who dismissed an application for judicial review of the police handling of the dispute, admitted there was overwhelming evidence that many of those involved in the “protest” had as their purpose the terrorising of these innocent children and their parents.
However, he said that was a separate issue to the the legality of the policing strategy and the decisions taken as to how the protest should be handled.
“That appraisal must take place within a well-defined legal framework,” he said.
“Having conducted that assessment, I have concluded that the policing judgments made have withstood the challenge that has been presented to them. The application for judicial review must be dismissed.”
Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Kathy Stanton said the result was ‘undoubtedly influenced by the disgraceful public commentary made by Human Rights Commission Chief Brice Dickson’.
Dickson, appointed to defend human rights in the Six Counties, scandalised the Commission he heads when he expressed support for the police actions at the time. About half of the members of the commission have resigned their posts.
Ms Stanton said the PSNI did not act to protect either the children or the parents at Holy Cross school
“The parent who took this case deserves our support and thanks for challenging in a very public way the complete failure by the PSNI to provide adequate protection for the children.
“The chances of the case succeeding were greatly diminished by the public intervention of the Human Rights Commission Chief Brice Dickson. His contribution in support of Ronnie Flanagan has without any doubt played a significant role in the failure of this case to proceed further.
“Brice Dickson should reflect upon this judgement and do the honourable thing and resign from the Commission rather than continuing to hang on to his post until next year and continuing to be an obstruction to the development of a rights based society here.”