Belfast Telegraph

Calls for explanation of ‘pupil of the day’ tribute to ex-bomber Anderson

By Rebecca Black

A school that sparked criticism after describing a former pupil who went on to become an IRA bomber as a role model has been urged to explain its actions.

St Cecilia's College in Londonderry yesterday again declined to comment on the row sparked after a post appeared on its Twitter feed describing Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson as "past pupil of the day" and quoting the school's motto: Aspire, Endeavour, Achieve.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United urged St Cecilia's to explain the tweet.

"The school has a responsibility to take account of the activities of the former pupil being held up as a role model between them leaving the education institution and the role they now occupy," he said.

"The full person needs understood by today's pupils and all aspects of Martina Anderson's life, including her actions whilst being part of a terrorist insurrection campaign.

"Educational institutions are charged with educating young people and of helping develop their minds.

"Schools are places of learning, and should not be advocating historical rewrite, whether subtle or otherwise.

"Would the school have felt it appropriate to reference a former pupil guilty of having committed other serious crimes? Or is it just terrorism that once again gets the bye-ball?"

The St Cecilia's College account has previously highlighted Helen Quigley, CEO of Derry regeneration group Inner City Trust, and Roisin Flynn, finance and admin manager of the Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre, as past pupils of the day.

St Cecilia's told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that the school will not be responding on the matter.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) was also approached for a response and asked whether it had received any complaints. It did not comment.

Ms Anderson attended St Cecilia's between 1973 and 1980. She was arrested at 18 leaving a furniture store in Derry and charged with possession of a firearm and causing an explosion.

She was in Armagh Women's Prison on remand for two months before being released on bail.

But she went on the run and crossed the border.

She was arrested again on June 24, 1985 in Glasgow with four other IRA members, including Brighton bomber Patrick Magee.

In 1986 all five were convicted of conspiring to cause explosions in England, although Magee was the only person convicted in relation to the Brighton Grand Hotel attack on the Tory conference.

The Derry woman went on the forge a successful political career and is currently one of Northern Ireland's three MEPs.

Sinn Fein worker Mickey Anderson - Ms Anderson's nephew - leapt to the MEP's defence yesterday on Facebook.

"We are all proud of everything that Martina Anderson has done for Irish freedom and for the betterment of all its people," he posted.

"A harder working, more dedicated person you will struggle to find.

"A source of inspiration, a role model, a leader, my aunty, my hero.

"Someone we are all so, so proud of and who we can only aspire to be like, endeavour to be as hard working and dedicated as and dream of achieving what she has."

Belfast Telegraph

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