The mother of a Holy Cross schoolgirl is taking her legal claim to the House of Lords with her complaint at the manner in which the PSNI failed to defend her daughter from sectarian violence and intimidation five years ago.
The woman has been granted leave to bring the case to England’s highest court after senior judges in Belfast endorsed the PSNI’s notorious ‘corridor of hate’, which forced schoolgirls and their parents to run a guantlet of abuse and assaults on their way to Holy Cross school.
The mother - known only as ‘E’ to protect her from possible further threats - has complained about the way the protests were “policed” in the autumn of 2001.
The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, described the violence as “one of the most shameful and disgraceful episodes in the recent history of Northern Ireland”.
At the height of the demonstrations, a blast bomb was hurled at the children.
E’s lawyer, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane solicitors, said: “The schoolgirls were subjected on a daily basis to a violent and unlawful protest and were targeted because of their religion and because, despite their age, they were perceived as nationalists. “
In cases before the High Court and the Court of Appeal, lawyers for ‘E’ argued that police should have used firmer action against the loyalists.
Judges said the police were trying to “allow the children to get to school in safety and to pursue their education”. They accepted PSNI claims that they were afraid of causing further trauma to the girls if they intervened.