Saturday 18 November 2017

Student at President protest school sent home before visit

Michael D Higgins
Michael D Higgins

Sam Griffin

A student at the Dublin school where Irish Water protesters targeted President Michael D Higgins with vicious abuse was sent home on the morning of the protest after making offensive comments about the head of State.

The boy (14), who subsequently took part in the protests, had posted the remarks about President Higgins on Facebook the night before he visited Colaiste Eoin in Finglas, west Dublin.

The Irish Independent has learned the secondary school was alerted to the posts, at which point the school's management asked that they be removed as they were in breach of the code of conduct.

The student removed the comments but repeated the offensive remarks at a meeting with his parents and the school's principal last Friday morning, shortly before the President arrived at the school.

It is understood some of the comments were the same as those shouted at Mr Higgins as he tried to leave the school after his 90-minute visit.

The college yesterday said it could not comment on individual cases but confirmed one student had been sent home for breaching the school's code of conduct. However Colaiste Eoin Principal Paula O'Brien said the student had not been suspended and returned to school the following Monday morning.

Security sources have revealed the student, along with other members of his family, subsequently took part in the protests where Mr Higgins was called a "midget parasite", a "sell-out" and a "traitor" because he signed the Water Service Bill.

The protesters remained outside the school after the President had left, resulting in many students having to be held back inside the school until it was safe to leave.

Principal O'Brien said she was disappointed the protests had taken from the visit by the President.

"Our 50th celebration was a wonderful success. The President's visit was a fantastic celebration for the students, parents, teachers and the community at large.

"President Higgins and Mrs Higgins were very generous with their time and the students really appreciated that."

She added: "From the school's perspective, it was disappointing that the focus has not been on the celebration that took place inside the school."

Gardai are now reviewing security arrangements for future public engagements by the President.

Irish Independent

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