Sectarian abuse teacher thanks pupils

Published Saturday, 08 February 2014
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A teacher at a north Belfast school, who was forced to leave her post after receiving sectarian abuse, has told her party's Ard Fheis that she is grateful for her pupils' support.

Sectarian abuse teacher thanks pupils
Graffiti appeared close to the Boys Model school grounds. (© UTV)

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."

© UTV News
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25 Comments
Kran in The Walled City wrote (257 days ago):
I don't understand how the "Facebook page" mentioned hasn't been taken down. It is a right wing Facebook page by a group/political party that once had a BNP leader at its helm and told its followers the information needed. Its followers are 100% anti-sf, anti-Catholic and anti-Irish and yet claim innocence for the abuse this woman suffered. Today the page has told its followers to not "tout" on pictures released by police of rioters at flag protests "or else". Time for this "party" to go the way of EDL/BNP and be shown for what they are.
C in Belfast wrote (257 days ago):
"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." She's hit the nail on the head here. I'd love to see the pupils come forward and alienate those choosing to speak for them. Give them no quarter.
Larry in Belfast wrote (258 days ago):
It seems that in our wee country it is always people from the outside who are not directly involved in the situation who are the trouble makers. The only ones who should be choosing teachers is the education board of the area. The teachers political slant has nothing to do with her ability to teach. Well done to pupils and teacher alike, and shame on the rabble who drove her out.
Equal opportunity supporter in Belfast wrote (258 days ago):
Interesting how she could get a job in a protestant school in the first place (as should be the case if she was the best person for tge job). Protestant teachers can rarely get a job in a catholic school as the schools put so many barriers in the way e.g only advertising the post in Irish newspapers (sometimes written in Irish), or Teachers can only be appointed to a Catholic Maintained schools if they hold a recognised Certificate in Religious Education....
Dub in Dublin wrote (258 days ago):
Some people will never learn and such a terrible example they are setting for their children.
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