Northern Ireland news

Belfast Holy Cross schoolgirls paid compensation over 2001 loyalist dispute

The school made global headlines in 2001 when loyalists protested against Catholic schoolgirls walking through their area

THREE former north Belfast schoolgirls who faced loyalist protests during the high-profile 2001 Holy Cross dispute have received compensation.

Stormont's justice department said it had received eight applications for compensation and three were accepted, but refused to disclose the amounts paid out.

Holy Cross Girls' School in Ardoyne was at the centre of a sectarian dispute in 2001 when loyalists protested against the Catholic schoolgirls walking through their area.

Footage and images of the primary school pupils clinging to their mothers as they ran the gauntlet of police lines were beamed across the world.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Department of Justice confirmed it had received eight compensation claims relating to the incident.

Compensation was paid for three of the claims, the department added.

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

Awards under the criminal injuries compensation scheme can range from £1,000 to £250,000.

Fr Aidan Troy, who was parish priest in Ardoyne at the time of the 2001 dispute, said some of the schoolgirls had then been prescribed medication for anxiety and to help them sleep.

He said that while he would not apply for compensation the former school pupils "have every right to do so".

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