Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

I quit to protect the pupils at Belfast Boys Model, says threatened Sinn Fein teacher

Catherine Seeley
Catherine Seeley

A woman who was forced to quit her job at a north Belfast school over online sectarian intimidation has said she would never apologise for being a "teacher by day, Sinn Fein activist by night".

Catherine Seeley (25) from Lurgan quit the Belfast Boys Model in February after only six months.

She had received intimidatory online messages and threats after it emerged she was a member of Sinn Fein and was co-opted to serve on Craigavon Council.

At that time she spoke only to thank the pupils at the school who had sent her support.

But now she has spoken out in a blog about what happened. She added that she quit the school to protect the boys whom she taught as they prepared for their GCSEs.

"In the six-month period I worked in the Boys Model not one member of staff nor pupil would have had any inkling of my involvement in Sinn Fein," she wrote. "It was in no way relevant to my teaching role.

"I left my politics well and truly at home – between the hours of 8am and 4pm my teacher hat was firmly on.

"Teacher by day, Sinn Fein activist by night. That was, until the Protestant Coalition decided to take issue with it."

Ms Seeley said she left the school to protect her pupils.

"The boys they were claiming to represent were the same boys who were just three months away from sitting GCSE and A-Level exams and who would now lose their class teacher," she said.

"Not an easy decision to make may I add – the boys came first though. My continued role there would have cast a spotlight on the school and their studies until my departure."

Ms Seeley has since been redeployed to a school in another education board area and remains a Sinn Fein councillor in Craigavon.

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