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All children should get a St Patrick's Day holiday

ANOTHER St Patrick's Day has come and gone, with festivities, music, dance, dressing up, parades, religious services and general fun had by all. Except, it wasn't had by all.

Everyone who might have been, or wanted to be, was not there. Most Protestant children were, once again, left out by being confined to their school classrooms, where work went on as usual.

So, yet again, our children are divided and even denied a fun day on the basis of parental religious affiliation and what school we went to. Brilliant. Try explaining that to a child in P2.

Some would argue that it is up to individual schools and their governing bodies to decide which holidays are taken in any given year.

They may be correct, but if things are left this way, then nothing will likely change and we will still have St Patrick's Day exclusion of Protestant children continuing for the foreseeable future.

I think that the time is long overdue for the Department of Education to issue a directive that, in the interests of inclusiveness, equality, fun and bringing our children together for at least one day, or event a year, everyone should be given the day off.

I can't see too many state school staff, or children, objecting.

Many Protestant children already take the day off, anyway, and when I was teaching I would have liked the opportunity, or choice, to join in, too. Well, John O'Dowd?

T J McCLEAN

Belfast

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