Press Release 13/03/03

Schools across Northern Ireland to walk-out at 12.30 on Day X

Youth Against the War have issued a call for school students to walk out of school at 12.30pm on Day X, the first school day after war begins.

Youth Against the War organised the school walkouts that brought out more than 10,000 school students across Northern Ireland on March 5th. Following this success Youth Against the War groups are now organised in seventy schools in the following areas – Belfast, Derry, Newry, Coleraine, Bangor, Omagh, Lisburn, Enniskillen, Ballynahinch, Holywood, Cookstown/Magherafelt – with individuals in the process of setting up groups in other schools.

Youth Against the War rallies are being organised in most town centres where walkouts will take place. The rallies will be at 1pm, except in Belfast where there will be a 1.30pm rally outside the City Hall.

Youth Against the War organiser, Daniel Waldron commented:

"Bush and Blair seem determined to ignore the mass opposition to this war. If they go ahead there will be strikes and demonstrations right across the world. This movement can still disrupt their war efforts and young people in Northern Ireland can play their part.

"March 5th was an historic day when thousands of school students stood up to say no to this war for oil and also to defend our right to protest. We are hoping for an even bigger response this time."

"We are also hoping their will be no repeat of what happened in a number of schools on March 5th when gates were locked and senior staff physically attempted to prevent students from walking out. A number of Youth Against the War members have been victimised and suspended. In other cases schools have punished those who walked out with detentions. In one case students have been given detention for the rest of the year.

"On day X we will be sending a clear signal to Bush and Blair that this war is not justified and that we know it is really about oil and prestige, not about weapons of mass destruction or about democracy. We will also be asserting the right of young people to protest on issues they are concerned about. No student should be disciplined for walking out on Day X and the disciplinary measures implemented after March 5th should be revoked."

Mary Cahillane, Executive Committee member of the teacher’s union, the Irish National Teachers Organisation, has backed Youth Against the War’s call for teachers not to try to prevent school students from walking out.

Mary today said: "Youth Against the War organised a legitimate protest on March 5th. Members of my union in a number of schools refused to participate in the attempts to physically stop the walk-outs. Since then we have issued the following advice to members:

"INTO advises members to continue to exercise their professional judgements with respect to advising young people about participation in out of school demonstrations regarding a potential war in Iraq. INTO also advises members not to be party to any attempts designed to detain young people in school against their will."