Belfast Telegraph

Parents blast St Malachy's College careers invite to Navy and police

By Suzanne Breen

Several parents at one of Northern Ireland's leading Catholic grammar schools have objected to the PSNI and the Royal Navy being invited to a careers event next week.

They are calling on St Malachy's College in Belfast to withdraw the invitation which they claim is an insult to "those families whose loved ones have been killed through state murder and collusion".

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the school for a response yesterday, but it has so far not commented.

St Malachy's is the latest in a series of Catholic schools where republicans have raised objections to links being built with the PSNI and armed forces.

A father of a St Malachy's pupil last night said: "I have contacted the school to express my disgust that the PSNI and the British Royal Navy will have stalls at this event on Wednesday, February 28.

"The British armed forces murdered my uncle, so it is repugnant to me that St Malachy's thinks it appropriate that these people should attempt to recruit my son and his classmates. The British armed forces are not positive role models for our community and never will be."

The father said he would also be writing to the board of governors and asking them to "stop the policy of putting these people on pedestals".

The dissident republican party Saoradh said several parents from Ardoyne and the Bone had contacted it to complain about the event.

Spokesman Dee Fennell, a past pupil of St Malachy's, claimed the republican group was "disgusted at the development and fully supports the concerned north Belfast parents".

A former republican prisoner last month objected to pupils from Mercy College in Belfast - which his two daughters attend - taking part in a careers event at Boys' Model Secondary School at which the Army had a stall.

Last month, Saoradh complained after members of the Newry Neighbourhood Policing Team visited St Joseph's Boys' High School in the town to discuss "choices and consequences".

Pupils were also introduced to one of the drugs dogs, Sam, and his handler. Officers posted pictures of the visit on their Facebook page, as did the school.

However, Saoradh described the visit as "outrageous" and alleged it had "breached the neutral learning environment". It said it would be meeting the school.

Local DUP MLA Willie Irwin insisted it was positive that officers were engaging with local young people. "It's good to see police going into schools and explaining the situation. I'd have thought many parents would welcome that," he said.

"It's very backward looking for a dissident republican group to condemn that. As far as I know the PSNI visits most schools in Northern Ireland and I think that's good."

Republicans have also previously objected to the PSNI visiting a school in Derry.

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