Catholic schools targeted
Two north Belfast Catholic schools were at the centre of bomb
alerts today which were blamed on the unionist paramilitary
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 Fein 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 Fein members. Ball bearings have been fired
at the homes of a number of republicans in the past three
* 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.