Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

Protestant pupils voice support for Sinn Fein councillor teacher forced out of job by online bigots

Teacher Catherine Seeley is a Sinn Fein councillor in Craigavon
Teacher Catherine Seeley is a Sinn Fein councillor in Craigavon

The school teacher who fled her work in fear after it was revealed on Facebook that she was also a Sinn Fein councillor has been backed by her students.

Pupils at the Belfast Boys' Model school have been rallying behind Catherine Seeley after she was subjected to a litany of threats and online abuse because she is a Sinn Fein representative in Craigavon.

A family member said the 25-year-old was too upset and frightened to return to her work after threatening graffiti was daubed close to the Protestant school telling her to quit her post.

But students have taken to social networking site Twitter to voice their support for Ms Seeley.

A-Level student Daniel Hooke said that he was gutted over the incident, while a Twitter account dedicated to Ms Seeley was set up in her name and called 'loveCatherineSeeley'.

"All the best Cat Seeley from her Boys' Model A-level class! All literally gutted and a disgrace what's happened to such a good person!" wrote Daniel. Curtis Elliott wrote: "She was nothing but nice to me, good luck wherever you end up."

Ms Seeley had only been co-opted onto Craigavon Borough Council two weeks ago after a Sinn Fein colleague stepped down.

A post on the Protestant Coalition's Facebook page stated that one of its members had contacted the Boys' Model school and claimed they spoke to an assistant head regarding the teacher.

It stated that the school had confirmed Ms Seeley was a teacher there, but had refused to give out further information.

The post went on: "We, like the parents who send their children to the school, care about the children's welfare and education and if this teacher is an obstacle to their success, then she should be removed at once."

One Facebook user commented that she was "dumbfounded and sickened" to learn of the school teacher's political affiliation. The user went on to say that she would pull her son out of the school until the teacher's contract was terminated.

Sinn Fein MLA and education spokesperson Chris Hazzard hit out at unionist leaders, accusing them of remaining silent over the online intimidation.

"Since this young teacher was intimidated from her job because of her religion and her membership of Sinn Fein not one unionist political leader has spoken out in her defence and took a stand against the rejectionist mob driving this campaign," he said.

"Once again Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt are failing the test of political leadership."

BACKGROUND

The Protestant Coalition is a loyalist political party launched last year in the wake of Belfast City Council's decision to reduce the flying of the Union flag. At its launch, it included veteran campaigner Willie Frazer, a former BNP fundraiser and members of loyalist parties linked to terrorist groups.

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