By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — The father of a child attending Holy Cross Catholic girls’ primary school began a hunger strike this week in a desperate bid to stop the 12-week protest, although other parents are trying to dissuade him.
The 31-year-old father of two who does not want to be named has been refusing food since last Wednesday. Sources close to the man say his fast is “very much a last resort.”
Father Aidan Troy, chairman of Holy Cross governors, who learned of the protest on Saturday and spent much of last weekend with the man, said he is “devastated” by his action.
“This is very much an act of frustration, an act of desperation,” Troy said. “I appreciate his frustration. However, I have been telling him that the method he is using is not the right one.
“If at the end of the day, he goes through with this and fasts to the death, he will be leaving behind his wife and two children. I want him to think this through and realize that this is not the way forward.”
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Troy said the man’s protest was not politically motivated but a personal choice, which means no political pressure could be brought to bear to make him end it.
Meanwhile, the mother of a 7-year-old girl has been granted leave to remain anonymous in a court action suing the Northern Secretary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland for failing to protest her family’s human rights.
The woman, who has been threatened by loyalist protesters within the hearing of the police, is also arguing that the police failed to prevent the filming of parents and children on their way to the school.
“We hope that this case can be heard as quickly as possible, so that the children no longer have to endure this suffering and appalling treatment,” the lawyer representing the mother said. “The best Christmas present for these children will be to go to school like every other child in Northern Ireland.”