Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Sinn Fein teacher who fled job speaks out after threats and thanks students for support

Catherine Seeley (25) fled her work at Belfast Boys' Model school in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast
Catherine Seeley (25) fled her work at Belfast Boys' Model school in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast

A teacher at the centre of an online intimidation campaign has spoken publicly for the first time, thanking her students for their support.

Catherine Seeley (25) fled her work at Belfast Boys' Model school in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast last week after intimidation by loyalists over her support for Sinn Fein.

The Lurgan woman, who had been teaching Learning for Life and Work (LLW) at the school was co-opted as a Sinn Fein representative on to Craigavon Borough Council on January 20.

This was revealed on Facebook by the Protestant Coalition and she was taunted over a blog post she wrote for Ogra Sinn Fein six years ago. Since then, Ms Seeley has been the subject of threatening messages online and graffiti was sprayed on a wall close to the school urging her to quit.

The Catholic teacher has been too terrified to return to work since last week. Last night, Belfast Boys' Model issued a joint statement with the Belfast Education and Library Board supporting the teacher.

Former student Stephen Donnelly, an Alliance Party memeber, told the Belfast Telegraph he was horrified when he heard about the intimidation, describing Ms Seeley as "a lovely person".

Sinn Fein branded her targeting as a "witch hunt".

Ms Seeley, who has maintained her silence since the threats, spoke publicly for the first time during her first full meeting of Craigavon Council on Monday night. She received the support of her fellow councillors with parties across the divide uniting to condemn the threats against her.

Ms Seeley rose to her feet and paid a heartfelt tribute to some of her former students who in the last week have spoken out in anger at the campaign against her.

She also thanked her council colleagues for their support. Ms Seeley is still employed by the school but is on leave.

Story so far

Catherine Seeley (25, right) has been too terrified to return to work as a teacher at Belfast Boys' Model school in north Belfast since last week due to online intimidation by loyalists over her links to Sinn Fein.

Further reading

Sinn Fein: DUP must clarify stance over teacher forced out of job by online bigots

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

Threats force Sinn Fein teacher out of the classroom

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