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Secondary students tell pro-life groups to stay away from campaigning in schools

Schools across the country were sent letters in the last week asking for a promotional DVD to be played to students in the senior cycle.

MEMBERS OF THE Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) have pleaded with a pro-life group not to lobby schools to show a video which explains abortion in graphic detail.

Schools across the country were sent letters in the last week asking for a promotional DVD to be played to children in the senior cycle (usually 16 years or older).

The video features graphic images of aborted foetuses as well as an extract of a video called Silent Scream – something which was shown to students back in the 1980s.

After becoming aware of the letter sent by the Donegal Pro Life group, the ISSU released a statement calling on the group to keep politics out of school.

In a letter to a school, Pro Life Donegal say they want teachers to show the video, entitled Save the 8th, to their pupils.

ISSU president Leon Egan said: “I think it’s completely inappropriate for an outside organisation to send a letter to schools asking principals to play a campaign video to students. The sanctuary of school is something that is fundamentally important to us and it’s clear a line has been seriously crossed.”

Egan said he wished to clarify that the ISSU decided to take a neutral stance on the referendum as it represents the views of all of its members. He added that neither side should be approaching schools or trying to influence students’ decisions.

The letter from the pro-life campaign claims that teachers had been advocating a Yes vote in schools and believe students over the age of 16 should be shown the DVD.

RUNNING A screengrab from the video. Source: Facebook

“I think it’s disrespectful to suggest that students need to see this video to educate
themselves. Many students on both sides of the argument have been actively
engaged in the process and have formulated their own opinions,” Egan said.

“To think that a short DVD played by your religion teacher would drastically change a student’s position is insulting. We think that students will play a huge role in the outcome of this referendum and absolutely believe that students who can vote should vote. We sent voter registration forms to every secondary school in the country but the difference is we did not try to influence students’ opinions.”

According to its website, Donegal Pro Life is a non-denominational human rights organisation, drawing its support from a cross-section of Irish society.

John McGuirk, who is the spokesman for the official Save the Eighth group, told the Irish Times last week that his group has “not sought to campaign in schools” and that the group does not think it is “appropriate for teachers, or any other authority figures with power over young people, to be seeking to influence their students’ votes”.

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