Republicans stir up row over Army school visit

St Ciaran's College in Ballygawley
St Ciaran's College in Ballygawley

Republicans have criticised a secondary school in Co Tyrone after the British Army took part in its careers event.

A republican councillor claimed it was “beyond belief” that the Army was invited to the event at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley last week.

A parent, Cyril Quinn, said he learned about the event when his daughter returned from classes.

Mr Quinn’s cousin, Tony Gormley, was one of eight IRA terrorists shot dead by the SAS in Loughgall in 1988.

“It was very insensitive to the families who have had loved ones killed by the British Army, many of whom would have been past pupils of the school”, he added.

Dungannon Independent Republican councillor, Barry Monteith, said he had spoken with parents, grandparents and other family members following the event, and that he shared their “justifiable anger”.

“It is beyond belief that pupils would be faced with this when a number of them have close relatives who were killed by the British Army or by loyalists aided and abetted by the British Army”, he continued.

St Ciaran’s principal Aidan Taggart said: “The College would never intend to cause offence or hurt to any member of our community. We welcome into our school, children of a range of cultures and faiths and we are educational partners with both maintained and controlled schools.

“With that in mind, we aim to provide as much factual information about a wide range of careers as we can to our student body whilst ensuring that such information is age appropriate so that students can make objective, informed choices about careers at the appropriate time.

“It is in this context that a career event about Apprenticeships organised by STEMNET took place within the school. STEMNET provide ambassadors from a wide range of Industries and government organisations throughout Northern Ireland. We now appreciate the choice of Ambassador sent by STEMNET may have caused offence to some of our community and it would never have been our intention to do so.”