Published Saturday, 08 February 2014
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Catherine Seeley, who is a Sinn Féin councillor on Craigavon Borough Council, received abuse after a group called the Protestant Coalition posted a message on its Facebook page calling for parents of children at the Boys' Model School to protest over her position.
Since the message appeared the 25-year-old received sectarian abuse and related graffiti appeared close to the school grounds. Ms Seeley has decided not to return to the school and the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) are now seeking to find her another place in a different area.
Following the incidents, the Protestant Coalition said it had informed "the Protestant, unionist, loyalist community" of the woman's background, which was already in the public domain.
Addressing the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Co Wexford on Saturday, Ms Seeley said: "In the past few weeks, in my role as a teacher, I have been subjected to a campaign of sectarian intimidation. I have already expressed my warm thanks to all who have offered me support, including family, friends, colleagues, educationalists and politicians from various parties.
"I want to take this opportunity to publicly send a message of gratitude to those pupils of the Boys Model School in North Belfast who have courageously offered me their full support.
"They are a testimony to the values that should permeate not just education but every aspect of society. They inspire hope and confidence in me for the future."
She said: "Protestant working class boys are entitled to the same life prospects as everyone else.Politicians and educationalists who oppose the reform of the common funding formula are failing these children and need to be confronted and challenged.
"And they should answer directly to the students and children they claim to represent.
"And if they do, I am confident they will learn what my own recent experience has demonstrated, that students can be much wiser, more mature, more responsible and more respectful than some who claim to speak on their behalf."
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