Irish Republican News · December 18, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Intimidation campaign at Catholic schools

The unionist paramilitary UDA has been blamed for planting four hoax bombs at Catholic schools in north Belfast in the last two weeks.

Two unviable pipe bombs were found early on Thursday close to Our Lady of Mercy Girls’ Secondary School at Ballysillan. Another two devices were found nearby on the Crumlin Road.

The hoaxes came less than four days after a device was found in the grounds of Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School on the Ardoyne Road.

On December 6 St Gabriel’s College and Our lady of Mercy Primary School on the Crumlin Road were also the subject of alerts after four suspect devices found near the schools. They were all declared hoaxes.

All four Catholic schools have been targeted in recent years.

The Holy Cross school has been the focus of a lengthy anti-Catholic campaign in the area.

In 2001 a 12-week loyalist protest was mounted against Catholic parents bringing their children to Holy Cross Girls’ school along the Ardoyne Road were subjected to a notorious campaign of intimidation and violence in 2001

The violence also affected Mercy Primary and St Gabriel’s as loyalists blocked the Crumlin Road, stopping Catholics returning to homes in Ardoyne.

In January 2002 armed men attacked Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, smashing car windscreens belonging to staff.

Ardoyne parish priest Father Aidan Troy said he believed the hoax bomb alerts were designed to increase tensions in the area.

“It is very worrying that the four Catholic schools have again been targeted in this way,” he said.

“We had hoped this kind of despicable incident was a thing of the past, but unfortunately it seems that someone is trying to raise tensions between the two communities.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News