Republicans to meet principal over PSNI ‘gunmen’ invited to school

Republicans taking part in the Saoradh Easter commemoration march from the Bogside in Londonderry to the City Cemetery in 2017

A dissident republican political grouping in Newry has described a PSNI visit to a secondary school in the city as “outrageous” and said it will be meeting the principal to express their concern that “gunmen” were allowed on to the premises.

Saoradh said some parents have “serious concerns” that St Joseph’s Boys’ High School did not inform parents in advance of the visit, the group’s Newry branch said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Facebook message also claimed the officers’ presence breached the “neutral learning environment”.

It said: “Saoradh An Iúir have received serious concerns from parents of St Joseph’s regarding a recent visit to the school by armed members of the RUC. Among the concerns raised was the fact that no prior notification was given nor was any consent sought from parents.

“One concerned parent, who’s also a party activist, told Saoradh An Iúir: ‘For over 30 years myself and my family have suffered immensely at the hands of the British Crown Forces, including the RUC, and in more recent years the PSNI. My children have also endured abuse at their hands. To not even be notified or consulted that they would be visiting the school carrying firearms in the vicinity of my child is outrageous”

The statement says the school should be a “neutral learning environment, a safe haven,” and “not a place where gunmen, some of which have stopped and searched the same children under anti-terror laws, are free to be invited without consent or consideration.”

It adds: “A meeting has been arranged between a Saoradh representative, whose child is also a pupil, and the school principle [sic] to discuss this issue further.”

The school has declined to comment.

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