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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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BBC Reporter: There was apprehension as the Catholic parents and children began their walk to school. But there were some hopes, at least, that the worst might be over. There seemed fewer Protestant protesters than before, but then, from one loyalist side-street, stones began to fly.

Seconds later, the blast bomb was thrown from the loyalist crowd.

In all, four police officers were injured - two with shrapnel wounds.

At Holy Cross School, the Principal, Anne Tanney, tried to comfort her pupils.

We’re in uncharted territory now, this is just beyond, to be honest, ‘cause I cannot let myself, I cannot let you forget, or your viewers or listeners forget, that this is children going to school. And that’s the only issue I can speak on. I’m not into condemnation, I’m not into recrimination. These are four and five year-old girls going to school.

That was attempted murder of young babies and mothers going to school this morning. And for the next one of their politicians or community people to come on the television and say that this protest isn’t against children, I don’t want to hear it no more. It’s absolute lies and the world should see that those people tried to murder babies this morning.

Somebody sat down last night in a paramilitary organisation and decided that the thing to do here was to attack these children with a blast-bomb, and to try and kill them, to intimidate them and to terrorise them.

BBC Reporter: At the scene of the attack, one of the parties representing Loyalist paramilitaries condemned it, and called on all paramilitaries to stay away.

Well, I agree with you - it absolutely was disgraceful for any missile to be thrown at those youngsters whatsoever. I don’t know who threw them, but certainly I condemn it without reservation, it should never have happened.

BBC Reporter: The party representing the other main Loyalist group blamed rival paramilitaries.

I’m ashamed today to say that I’m a loyalist. I’m totally ashamed that anybody would do that when young Catholic girls are coming up here, totally ashamed.

BBC Reporter: The Head of the Presbyterian Church visited the two local Protestant and Catholic primary schools.

We can’t allow boys and girls from both sides of the community to suffer what they’re suffering. I’ve been into both Wheatfield Primary School this morning, and Holy Cross School, and the boys and girls from both schools are suffering as a result of this - it’s absolutely appalling.

BBC Reporter: The Holy Cross children came home safely. After the morning’s events, understandably, more parents and relatives were there to hold their hands. There’ll be an emergency meeting of parents later but, whatever they decide, the fear will remain present on these divided streets.

Denis Murray, BBC News, Ardoyne.

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