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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Community Voices - John Waugh is principal of Wheatfield Primary School in the Glenbryn estate John Waugh

Wheatfield Primary School is a controlled primary school situated on the Alliance Road. It also has an entrance on the Ardoyne Road and that entrance actually looks onto Holy Cross.

What was the emotional impact on the children from Wheatfield during the Holy Cross dispute?

I think it's fair to say that the pupils of Wheatfield Primary School were affected, just as much as the girls of Holy Cross. Our children were, at times, they showed symptoms of hyperactivity, at other times we saw that they were more withdrawn. It was extremely worrying and, as a result, we provided a forum whereby our parents could actually discuss and debate and hopefully find solutions to these problems.

What about the area of community relations? Have you noted that the young children have regressed in that area, that they've become more sectarian, more bitter, as a result of the experience?

As a school, we enjoyed excellent community relationships with Holy Cross for over ten years. On an educational basis we enjoyed promoting and developing the whole issue of EMU (Education for Mutual Understanding) and cultural heritage. Our educational trips with Holy Cross, they embraced all-year groups within our school from nursery right through to Primary Seven. Unfortunately, as a result of the problem on the Ardoyne Road, we have had to abandon the cross-community initiative.

Do you feel that the cross-community dimension of Wheatfield and Holy Cross has been set back by years?

My assessment really is it's dormant at the moment. We as a school have been thinking of how we can maybe resurrect the situation. And hopefully over a number of years we will indeed, in a very thoughtful and a reflective and indeed in a planned manner, in conjunction with Holy Cross, we will endeavour to develop or to reinvigorate the cross-community initiative.

But you can't take that initiative until you get the support of the parents.

I would agree entirely with you. I think it's extremely important that we bring along the parents, because on our educational trips, parents played a vital role in attending or going on these trips along with the staff and the pupils.

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