Belfast Telegraph

Anger as Derry school names Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson as 'Past Pupil of the Day'

The post about the ex-IRA bomber used the hashtags #Aspire #Endeavour #Achieve 

A secondary school in Londonderry has been criticised for a tweet featuring Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson as its 'Past Pupil of the Day'.

In a post on the Twitter feed of St Cecilia's College, Mrs Anderson is featured along with the hashtags "#Aspire #Endeavour #Achieve".

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The tweet by St Cecilia's College of Martina Anderson

The school makes daily posts for Past Pupil of the Day, and includes the same hashtags on each of these posts.

Other featured past pupils include a primary school teacher, the CEO of a local economic regeneration group, and a staff midwife.

In a response to this story on the Belfast Telegraph Twitter feed, Mrs Anderson said: "Sure if you didn’t laugh you’d cry!”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "We welcome the fact that the school has recognised former pupil Martina Anderson. Martina is a first-class public representative who achieved so much for so many.

"As an MLA, former Minister and MEP she has worked hard in the interest of all citizens and is currently campaigning for special status for the north to remain within the European Union."

The tweet sparked anger at the portrayal of Mrs Anderson as a role model, highlighting her IRA membership and imprisonment.

Martina Anderson spent 13 years in prison for IRA activity before her release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

She was jailed for her part in a series of explosions in the 1980s.

In a response, DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton tweeted: "There is nothing aspirational about an unrepentant terrorist. What hope is there for the future if schools have this as their role model?"

DUP councillor David Ramsey also criticised the tweet, writing on Twitter: "This is #ridiculous #shameful #shocking that a school would use a ruthless #terrorist as a role model. What message does this send to IRA victims."

In 2016, Mrs Anderson sparked controversy for a celebratory message to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Maze Prison breakout.

In May of 2017, Mrs Anderson hit back at accusations of hypocrisy over Sinn Fein's condemnation of the Manchester attack, saying the "IRA did not start the war, the war came to us."

Sinn Fein and St Cecilia's College have been contacted for comment.

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