Catherine Seeley and the Boys’ Model School


I’m perhaps biased, having spent most of my working life teaching or working with teachers. But I believe teachers have one of the toughest jobs going – and please,  no witless guff about short working days and three months’ holidays. Spend a week in front of a class and then come back and try repeating that line. You’ll find it’s stuck in your throat.

So it’s with a mixture of sadness and outrage that I read in this morning’s Belfast Telegraph of a young teacher who’s been frightened out of her workplace. No, not by the pupils. By the same kind of bone-heads who were at work on the Newtownards Road a couple of nights ago. What was Catherine Seeley’s crime? Well, she’s a Sinn Féin councillor in Craigavon. Where was she working? In the Boys’ Model School in north Belfast. A family member says she’s very scared, even though it’s her livelihood that’s at stake. Sinn Féin’s education spokesman Chris Hazzard makes the obvious point that no teacher should be targeted in this way, regardless of their beliefs or religion.

I know it’s hard to believe but there are people who will feign sympathy  with the young teacher but at the same time indicate that she brought it on herself. Why did she have to become a Sinn Féin councillor? Why did she have to teach in a Protestant school? That’s the old trick of blaming the victim. “I hit him because he provoked me, your Honour”; “If the mayor hadn’t gone to that park he wouldn’t have been jostled”; “The parents shouldn’t have brought their daughters to that primary school – didn’t they know they’d be upset by the barrage of sectarian abuse?”

What’s interesting now is how the school will respond. Assuming that Ms Seeley’s classroom performance is satisfactory they’ll stand by her and insist on her right to continue as their teacher. That is, if they believe that sectarian bullies should be resisted. If they don’t stand by her or maintain silence, they’ll have shown that they don’t run their own school – the most ignorant, bullying  section of their community does. That’d provide a nice model for the children in their care.

Here’s the link  to the Belfast Telegraph article:

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13 Responses to Catherine Seeley and the Boys’ Model School

  1. Larry Murphy February 1, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    “He’s a very nice fellow and a very good teacher and I would love to take him on full time, but you know the way things are”

    Words spoken to me by the Principal of a State Secondary School in County Fermanagh.

    • Larry Murphy February 2, 2014 at 12:12 am #

      Have a guess what the problem was that prevented the Principal from appointing the young teacher (who had been employed on a temporary basis) to a full time position in the State Secondary School.

  2. John Patton February 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    I assume, perhaps wrongly, that the Boys’ Model School is not a Protestant but rather a non-denominational institution, wholly funded by taxpayers. I spent most of my working life in the non-denominatial sector here in Scotland, sixteen of them as a headteacher. I hope some Unionist minister will openly support Ms Seeley’s employment rights and demand action against those who would deny them to her.

  3. Gio Flavelle February 1, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    I work in a special needs school as a Technician and all teachers, (and non teaching staff), should be praised from the rooftops for the work that they do for children. I have seen them do things way beyond their duty. (Buying clothes for a less well off pupil out of his own pocket is what one dude did at our school). The people who did this to Miss Seeley should hang their heads in utmost shame. This is hate crime and should be pursued by the PSNI.

  4. ANOTHER JUDE February 1, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    She has zero chance of any Official Unionist or DUP councillor, MLA or MP defending her right to teach at that school. Fact is, if she had been shot dead they would not have condemned that either.

  5. Pointis February 2, 2014 at 3:09 am #

    I suspect that if Heaven forbid this young teacher were shot that everyone would quite rightly come out and condemn it.

    What we can see is good old fashioned bigotry at work, a bit of graffiti near the school with her name, perhaps the type of car she drives or maybe a couple of fresh key scores down the length of the car while parked at her place of work would probably do the trick just as nicely without anyone of consequence having to resort to anything drastic.

    In such circumstances you wouldn’t need any intervention by unionist politicians as it could be conveniently dismissed as purely a school disciplinary matter being the responsibility of the school management and the police.

    Job done!

  6. Bill February 2, 2014 at 4:30 am #

    Similarities with Neil Lennon in Scotland are striking.

  7. Ryan February 2, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    I haven’t met a single person online who agrees with that idiot Frazer. not one.

    Everyone, and I mean everyone is shocked and angry that they’re trying to put politics in the classroom.

  8. RJC February 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Hopefully now the media will stop referring to Frazer as a ‘victim’s campaigner’ – he is a hateful sectarian bigot with a dangerous agenda. Surely this is an instance where the Incitement to Hatred laws can be used to charge him?

  9. Neill February 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    This is a disgraceful incident and hopefully the people involved will feel the full force if the law and if not that will be a total disgrace

    However I have to take Jude to task on one point he says teaching is the toughest job going has he ever been self employed or worked in the private sector?

    • Jude Collins February 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      I’ve been a free-lance moonlighter for nearly forty years – does that count as self-employed? Loved every minute of it and not nearly as tough as teaching. Also worked in English factories of different kinds. Stunningly boring so harder than teaching in that sense; but not nearly as scary…You ever taught, Neill?

  10. Neill February 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    Yes and I found it to to be more frustrating than difficult in my chosen career you have to have it in you it can’t be taught and to tell people they aren’t going to make it is difficult.

    The education system has to change in so many ways it fills with despair when I have to interview kids in many ways Eastern Europeans are light years ahead in education perpetration

  11. P97979 February 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    Her crime is likely in breach of the Terrorism Act by glorifying a proscribed terrorist organisation as she admits in the Sinn Fein interview (now conveniently deleted) organising and taking part in events glorifying IRA terrorists.