23 April 2005

Daily Ireland

SF slur sparks school row

A row erupted at a Co Derry school yesterday after a teacher allegedly made anti-republican remarks to pupils.
The dispute began yesterday afternoon after the alleged comments were made by a teacher at St Mary's Secondary School in Limavady.
However, a meeting between the boy’s parents and the principal of St Mary’s Secondary School was yesterday abandoned when the boy's mother brought along Sinn Féin’s East Derry Westminster candidate, Billy Leonard.
The school insisted that only the boy's parents should attend the meeting.
However, the boy's mother says she will ask her solicitor to write to the school’s board of governors about the incident.
The remarks were allegedly made after a few students were told to remove republican badges from their uniforms.
“I was outraged when my son arrived home from school extremely distressed," said the woman.
“When I asked what had upset him he reluctantly told me that his teacher had called Sinn Féin criminals and that he had to sit there and listen to it.
“This is completely and utterly inappropriate behaviour in the school.
“The classroom is not the place to make political points of this sort.
“My son has been very upset by the incident and had to take the day off school.
“I brought along Billy Leonard because of the direct implications for Sinn Féin of such a statement,” she added.
The woman added that she had the “highest regard" for the school, but insisted that yesterday’s incident would have to be remedied.
Despite repeated attempts to contact the school, no one was available for comment yesterday.
A spokeswoman from the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) said the incident was a matter for the school.
“Anything like that would be a management issue for the school and we wouldn’t even necessarily be contacted about something like that,” she said.
Sinn Féin’s East Derry Westminster candidate Billy Leonard said that any teacher with a problem with Sinn Féin should refrain from addressing their comments to schoolchildren.

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