20 May 1999 Edition

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Keep RUC away from schoolchildren

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley is calling on the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) to stop giving the RUC access to Catholic schools and pupils throughout the Six Counties.

Hartley's call came after parents of St. Dominic's grammar school on the Falls Road complained to him that the RUC were going to the school on Saturday 15 May to take a group on a mountaineering trip in the Mourne Mountains.

However the trip was called off by the headmistress Sister Lucina Montague who said she was worried that a Sinn Féin picket, organised to coincide with the RUC's arrival at the school, might lead to trouble.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, the Sinn Féin councillor went on to accuse the CCMS of aiding in the rehabilitation of the RUC by giving them free entry into Catholic schools.

``The RUC is engaged in a charm offensive and the CCMS is insulting nationalists by allowing into the schools members of a force that has abused the rights of nationalists and engaged in the killing of nationalists throughout its history.

``The RUC have no place in a civilised society, never mind a school. The school authorities have a responsibility to the community from which they draw their pupils. In this case, it is from the community which the RUC has directed its violence towards for the past 30 years,'' said Hartley.

This incident is the latest in a long line of cases where Catholic school authorities have given the RUC free access to schools and pupils.

The RUC, engaging in a charm offensive and keen to reforge its image as a `community' police force rather than the paramilitary attack force that it is, is pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into activities such as Saturday's trip to the Mournes.

That the CCMS has chosen to turn a blind eye to the RUC's past record and facilitate their charm offensive is an insult to many nationalists, but by not informing parents of RUC involvement in these activities the authorities in the schools involved are taking away the rights of parents.

``The CCMS must take a decision that prohibits its schools partaking in the rehabilitation of the RUC'', concluded Hartley.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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