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Holy Cross dispute: Payouts for Catholic schoolgirls who faced terrifying loyalist protests in Belfast

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/09/2016

Alice Lee Bunting in tears as she makes her way to Holy Cross Primary School
Alice Lee Bunting in tears as she makes her way to Holy Cross Primary School
Catholic school children and their parents make their way to Holy Cross school under a heavy police and British Army presence in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Holy Cross protests
Holy Cross Primary School Protest September 2001. Riot police and army march Holy Cross school children and their parents past burnt out cars and protesting loyalists on their second day back to school in Ardoyne, North Belfast this morning.
Ardoyne Road parents and their children on their way to Holy Cross Girls Primary School in what is now the tenth week of the dispute and loyalist protest.
Father Aiden Troy - Chairman of Board of Governors of Holy Cross School - discusses the sitation with a senior police officer on Ardoyne road
Terrified children on their way to Holy Cross Girls Primary School at the height of the dispute in 2001
Protestant school children who were separated from their parents, scream for their mothers who were held behind armed police and army lines, before the catholic Holy Cross school children were brought to school in Ardoyne this morning.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest In Belfast
Catholic Holy Cross Primary School children in tears as their parents march them through armed police and army lines who where holding back protesting protestant residents in Ardoyne, North Belfast, on their first day back to school this morning.
Catholic Holy Cross Primary School children in tears as their parents march them through armed police and army lines who where holding back protesting protestant residents in Ardoyne, North Belfast, on their first day back to school this morning.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
An injured police officer is helped by two of his colleagues after a pipe bomb was thrown at them from protesting loyalists this morning in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, after Holy Cross Primary school children were marched through lines of Police and army on the second day back to school.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest September 2001. The postman was the only sign of normality this morning on the Ardoyne Rd as despite all that has been happening - the mail got through.
Smoke spreads as a pipe bomb explodes after it was thrown at police and army lines by protesting loyalists this morning in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, after Holy Cross Primary school children were marched through lines of Police and army on the second day back to school.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross School, November 2001. Children laugh and sing as they make there way up the Ardoyne Road this morning after loyalist protests were suspended and things start to get back to normal for the first time since school term started in September of this year
Paulette Donnelly with her parents arriving at Holy Cross Girls primary School after walking through "Corridor of Hate" on Friday (7/9/01).
Belfast St Patrick's Day Celebrations March 2002. All smiles as the girls and parents from the Holy Cross School at Ardoyne lead the North belfast contingent into the city centre during the annual St Patricks Day parade
Fr Aidan Troy

Three former Ardoyne schoolgirls have received compensation after facing terrifying protests during the 2001 Holy Cross dispute.

The Department of Justice confirmed following a Freedom of Information Act request that it had received eight applications for compensation - of which three have been paid out - but refused to disclose the individual sums involved.

Protestant school children who were separated from their parents, scream for their mothers who were held behind armed police and army lines, before the catholic Holy Cross school children were brought to school in Ardoyne this morning.
Protestant school children who were separated from their parents, scream for their mothers who were held behind armed police and army lines, before the catholic Holy Cross school children were brought to school in Ardoyne this morning.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest In Belfast
Catholic Holy Cross Primary School children in tears as their parents march them through armed police and army lines who where holding back protesting protestant residents in Ardoyne, North Belfast, on their first day back to school this morning.
Catholic Holy Cross Primary School children in tears as their parents march them through armed police and army lines who where holding back protesting protestant residents in Ardoyne, North Belfast, on their first day back to school this morning.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.

Awards under the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme range from £1,000 to £250,000.

The Holy Cross dispute started on the Ardoyne interface in June 2001, when loyalists started picketing the entrance to Holy Cross Girls Primary School in response to attacks on Protestant homes in the area.

Photographs of young children clinging to their mothers while sectarian abuse and missiles were thrown in their direction hit the headlines across the world.

Father Aidan Troy was the parish priest in Ardoyne at the time and said that some of the schoolgirls - who ranged in age from four to 11 years old - had then been prescribed medication for anxiety and to help them sleep.

Now, 14 years on, the Department of Justice said it had received eight compensation claims relating to the incident.

The department added that compensation had been paid in respect to three of the claims.

In response to being asked how much compensation it expected to pay out, the department said: "It is not possible to provide a projected cost, as Compensation Services are unable to predict how many claims will be received".

The department also refused to detail how much the three individual payments had been, claiming this disclosure could lead to the identification of the individuals concerned.

Catholic children walking to the Holy Cross Primary School.
Catholic children walking to the Holy Cross Primary School.
Security forces keep a watchful eye as a young girl and her father walk up the Ardoyne Road in North Belfast to Holy Cross school. Police stepped up their security outside North Belfast schools after recent threats and trouble as parents walked their children to school.
A pupil from the Holy Cross school in North Belfast interferance where trouble has been erupting for several weeks.

The compensation was awarded under the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2002.

The department also said in its response to the Belfast Telegraph inquiry that victims of Holy Cross have until their 20th birthday to lodge a criminal injury claim.

Ulster University legal academic Rosemary Craig said the original incarnation of the scheme was set up in 1992 by the Northern Ireland Office to help victims of the Troubles gain compensation in cases where the perpetrator had not been brought to justice.

Responsibility for it has since passed to Stormont's Department of Justice.

She said that a next of kin would normally apply to the scheme on behalf of the young person if they are aged under 18 years within two years of the injury, and said the injury would normally have to be worth at least £1,000 in compensation for the claim to be considered.

There are a number of levels of awards, which can go up to £250,000.

Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
An injured police officer is helped by two of his colleagues after a pipe bomb was thrown at them from protesting loyalists this morning in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, after Holy Cross Primary school children were marched through lines of Police and army on the second day back to school.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest September 2001. Riot police and army march Holy Cross school children and their parents past burnt out cars and protesting loyalists on their second day back to school in Ardoyne, North Belfast this morning.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest September 2001. The postman was the only sign of normality this morning on the Ardoyne Rd as despite all that has been happening - the mail got through.
Smoke spreads as a pipe bomb explodes after it was thrown at police and army lines by protesting loyalists this morning in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, after Holy Cross Primary school children were marched through lines of Police and army on the second day back to school.

Fr Troy said that while he would not apply for compensation for having gone through the dispute himself, the former schoolgirls "have every right to do so".

"I am eight years gone from that parish, so this is news to me, but obviously within their families they have thought about it, and if the legal system provides this for them then I think they have every right to make the application," he added.

"The events of Holy Cross are very public and I would not know the full long-term effects, but obviously after 15 years they still feel some sense of trauma and need for some help. I would fully respect that.

Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.

"My attitude is if people go through the right channels to make any sort of application that a court or board of compensation will recognise, they have every right to do so.

"I can fully understand why people who have been through trauma would want to apply for compensation.

"These were girls aged between four and 11, they were very young and very impressionable and were deeply affected by it. Every one of us were.

Holy Cross School, November 2001. Children laugh and sing as they make there way up the Ardoyne Road this morning after loyalist protests were suspended and things start to get back to normal for the first time since school term started in September of this year
Holy Cross School, November 2001. Children laugh and sing as they make there way up the Ardoyne Road this morning after loyalist protests were suspended and things start to get back to normal for the first time since school term started in September of this year
Paulette Donnelly with her parents arriving at Holy Cross Girls primary School after walking through "Corridor of Hate" on Friday (7/9/01).
Catholic school children and their parents make their way to Holy Cross school under a heavy police and British Army presence in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Belfast St Patrick's Day Celebrations March 2002. All smiles as the girls and parents from the Holy Cross School at Ardoyne lead the North belfast contingent into the city centre during the annual St Patricks Day parade

"I wouldn't go down the route of compensation myself because I was simply doing my job as chair of the board of governors at that time.

"But I can well imagine the impact would be very great on children at such a formative age. You could see their trauma."

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