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Enniskillen Royal formal 'awards' row raises crucial issues

I was heartened to see the article in the Belfast Telegraph on the 'awards' at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School. My daughter attends the school and was present on the night of the formal when the 'awards' were handed out by sixth formers.

In fact, she was going to be given an award without her prior knowledge or consent. But she was so upset by the awards that had been handed out that she had left the room in a state of distress. Thankfully she was not there to receive her 'award', which was 'the most likely person to take a bribe from the IRA'.

Why was she chosen? Because she studies history and politics passionately; she doesn't subscribe to our history of sectarianism, is a minority in her school, and questions our history.

On the night she challenged the head boy and the others involved and was told it was just "boys' banter". Why did she challenge them? Because she cares deeply about these issues and cares deeply about people affected by the issues.

I would like to say I do not think it is appropriate to express outrage at Miss Armstrong, who is an excellent principal in my opinion. However, she has inherited a system that is truly wrong.

We need to be careful this does not become an attack on the school per se, but on the system that is supporting this type of behaviour.

I am concerned the real issue here will be lost, and that is mental health and sexual assault/consent are real for our young people.

Let us as a community stand up and say that this was not okay.

Rita O'Loughlin

Parent

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