Holy Cross drama bitterly criticised
A new drama based on the loyalist intimidation at Holy Cross
Girls school has been given the thumbs down by nationalists in
'Holy Cross' was billed as a fictional story about a Catholic
and Protestant family involved in the dispute two years ago.
Catholics leaving church in Ardoyne on Sunday said it was
wrong to make a film about the school protest so soon after
Pensioners Anita and Michael Burns, whose two granddaughters
attended Holy Cross during the protests, believe the decision
to make a drama about the attacks and harassment of girls at
the school was ill-conceived.
"I think it was totally wrong that they should have made a
film about what those children were forced to go through," Mr
"What annoyed me most was the fact that none of the families
who went through this whole thing seemed to have had any say
about the way they were portrayed. To me this film will just
make relations between the two communities even worse."
Mrs Burns said the memory of the Holy Cross protests was still
too raw for many of those effected to relive the ordeal.
"We know from personal experience what our granddaughters had
to go through," she said.
"When the protests were happening and our granddaughters were
being attacked every day on their way to school I made an
official complaint to the (police) ombudsman at the way the
police were letting this thing happen.
"To me this drama seemed more interested in making newspaper
headlines than properly portraying the trauma that those
children and their parents went through."
Community worker Philip McTaggart, who counsels young people
in Ardoyne who are suffering from stress, accused the BBC and
RTE of turning a traumatic incident into light entertainment.
"To me this drama tried to make an entertainment programme out
of what was a deeply disturbing period for dozens of families
in this community."
Mr McTaggart, whose son took his own life earlier this year
through depression, expressed concerns that the drama could
add to the trauma for which children and parents were still
"What concerns me most is that this community already has huge
problems with young people taking their own lives through
stress and trauma and this programme will do nothing to help
address that problem," he said.
"Many of the children who had to go through those protests are
still being treated for the trauma they were forced to endure.
"People shouldn't forget that pipe bombs, bottles, stones and
urine were hurled at these little girls and their parents, for
no other reason than they wanted to go to school."
Former Holy Cross governor Gerard McGuigan described the drama
as "deeply flawed" and "insensitive".
"To me it appeared that the film-makers were trying to produce
a balance between Catholics and Protestants when in actual
fact if you look at what happened there was no balance," he
"The fact of the matter is that Catholic children were
attacked on their way to school. Those protests were
tantamount to child abuse and to try to gloss over what
happened and come up with a drama which reinforces the old
cliche that 'one side was as bad as the other' was just
factually and morally wrong."
The drama portrayed two schoolgirls, one Catholic and one
Protestant, both of whom were depicted as victims of a
gauntlet of hate through which Catholic schoolgirls had to
pass through on their way to school.
As expected, the drama resorted to stereotypes. The Catholic
father was predictably depicted as an IRA man, while the
loyalist father stood around drinking lager in a tight-fitting
Holy Cross rector Fr Aidan Troy has said he felt that
portrayed the family as paramilitary and involved in the IRA
"That kind of representation is not fair, it's not keeping to
the story. But even if every child and their parents were
paramilitaries who walked that gauntlet it would not matter.
It was child abuse, pure and simple and totally unprovoked.
Those children were left to stew for three months and left to
endure the taunts.
"Now if anyone wants to make a movie about paramilitaries,
don't call it Holy Cross - call it 'Guns 'n' Roses'. But don't
call it Holy Cross, that's an insult."