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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 April, 2014

Catholic teacher leaves job at school after online sectarian abuse

Sinn Féin has blamed a Protestant group for targeting the 25-year-old teacher.

Catherine Seeley
Catherine Seeley
Image: Upper Bann Sinn Féin

A TEACHER IN Northern Ireland has left her job at a Protestant school following online sectarian abuse aimed at her.

Catherine Seeley, 25, a teacher at the Boys’ Model School in Belfast who is also a Sinn Féin councillor, was subjected to abuse about her political affiliation.

Sinn Féin has said that Seeley was targeted by a group called the Protestant Coalition, co-founded by prominent campaigner Willie Frazer.

The Protestant Coalition had posted links to an interview conducted with Seeley on its Facebook page.

In one post, it pointed to Seeley’s involvement in “marches, memorials and demonstrations” and told one user: “The purpose of this post is to highlight how can someone with the quotes she has used [sic] able to teach Protestant children”.

Sinn Féin called on Unionist leaders to face down fringe groups and defend the right of people to work free from sectarian harassment.

“No teacher, whatever their beliefs or religion, should be singled out and targeted in such a way,” said Sinn Féin education spokesperson in Northern Ireland Chris Hazzard.

However in a lengthty statement this afternoon, the Protestant Coalition criticised Hazzard for his comments and stood behind its Facebook post.

“We applaud your stance on this Mr Hazzard but it didn’t stop Sinn Fein/IRA from murdering both Roman Catholics and Protestants who were employed in many different jobs just to try and achieve their goal,” the statement says.

There has been strong criticism of the Protestant Coalition on the group’s own Facebook page, with some users questioning the motive behind posting information about the young teacher.

“Some of you may not agree and feel angry but boycotting and taking your children out of the school is small minded,” wrote one user. “Let the school follow the necessary policy that the may have. Leave the young girl alone”.

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