Republicans to picket school over PSNI and RN at careers event

Dee Fennell was one of those planning to picket St Malachy's
Dee Fennell was one of those planning to picket St Malachy's

Republicans are to picket a north Belfast grammar school on Wednesday night in protest at the presence of the PSNI and Royal Navy at a careers event.

The protestors are expected to hand out leaflets complaining that the “presence of British armed forces” in schools was not acceptable.

High-profile republican and Saoradh member Dee Fennell, a former pupil of St Malachy’s on the Antrim Road, said the school had failed to consult with parents about the invitation.

By Wednesday afternoon more than 1,200 people had signed an online petition calling for the “disgraceful” invitation to be withdrawn.

Speaking on the BBC Talkback programme, Mr Fennell said he believed it was “common knowledge that republicans have historically opposed the police” whether that be the RUC or the PSNI, and that he would be distributing leaflets at the school. The school principal not responded to requests for comment.

In recent weeks, republicans in Newry said they had sought a meeting with the principal of St Joseph’s Boys’ high school after a presentation was given to pupils by neighbourhood police officers.

Saoradh’s Newry branch described the officers attending as police “gunmen” who had breached the “neutral learning environment”.

There was also some republican objections after pupils from Mercy College in Belfast encountered an Army information stall when attending a careers event in the Boys’ Model secondary school last month.