Six people charged in Ardoyne school violence

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The Independent Online

Six people, including a leading loyalist spokesman, were charged yesterday in connection with disturbances arising from clashes outside a Catholic girls' school in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

Protests aimed at stopping Catholic pupils reaching Holy Cross primary school continued yesterday, with minor stonethrowing and scuffles during the afternoon.

The six will face public order charges. Among those charged was Jim Potts, a loyalist spokesman. The accused men are due to appear in court tomorrow.

A sizeable security operation involving police and troops is still required each day to shepherd the girls and their parents to and from the Catholic part of Ardoyne to their school, which is in the nearby Protestant Glenbryn area.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, appealed to Northern Ireland parties to work together to break the deadlock in the peace process.

Speaking from Downing Street, both prime ministers agreed the package that emerged from talks at Weston Park earlier this year was the basis for progress.

Mr Blair said: "We very much hope that in the time that remains in order to get these proposals agreed, that the parties come together around them."

The Belfast Assembly and other institutions of the Good Friday Agreement face suspension by this weekend unless some unexpected breakthrough emerges.

Mr Blair added: "I hope we can now on the issue of policing, on the issue of violence, resolve the last remaining questions, so that we can move forward."

Mr Ahern declared: "We need the support of the parties to come in behind what we concluded at Weston Park. There is no other alternative."

In Belfast, Mark Durkan, the Finance Minister, formally declared his candidature in the contest to succeed John Hume as leader of the SDLP.

Police on both sides of the Irish border announced yesterday that they would take part in a fund-raising appeal for injured officers and the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks on America. Officers and civilian staff of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Garda Siochana are asked to donate one hour's pay to the appeal.

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