Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Has Catholic education body learned nothing from our history?

Rosa McLaughlin
Rosa McLaughlin

So, now we know that the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools thinks that planning to murder a senior RUC man and attack a police station is no impediment to teaching in a Catholic school.

I mean, it's not as if they were doing something really questionable like living in sin or being gay.

But as the decision by St Mary's College in Derry to appoint convicted IRA spy Rosa McLaughlin to the post of vice-principal makes clear, plotting to murder a policeman isn't that big a deal.

Ah but (deep drawing of breath) "under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement" Ms McLaughlin is entitled to be appointed vice-principal.

Still, since when has any political agreement, any statute, any treaty, defined Catholic morality? Never – and quite rightly so.

Yet the silence from church hierarchy is deafening: what happened to all that talk about Catholic schools needing to defend, nay, to metaphysically embody Catholic values? What happened to all that condemnation of IRA violence during the Troubles? Was it only to bolster the SDLP in holding off Sinn Fein? And now that that cause has been irredeemably lost ...

One wonders where precisely St Mary's and the CCMS would see fit to draw the line. If she was a former member of the Parachute Regiment? If she was a former loyalist paramilitary? If McLaughlin and her Provo chums had succeeded in gunning down former RUC Assistant Chief Constable Trevor Forbes, say, in front of his family or blowing up Bangor police station would St Mary's principal Marie Lindsay still think there "was no justification for not appointing" Ms McLaughlin to be her sidekick?

Let's not, on this occasion, take the intention for the deed ... No, indeed, let's not.

The blunt truth is that what we are looking at here is a moral disaster.

St Mary's and the CCMS have taught us all a painful lesson by deeming a (as far as we know totally unrepentant) IRA spy as a fit and proper person in the education of our young.

No wonder many (and not just unionists) will be taking the lesson doled out by Catholic education authorities to heart and drawing their own rather uncomfortable conclusions.

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