Students Take a Stand Against War
Claire Allan, March 7th 2003, Derry Journal
STUDENTS ACROSS Derry, who are opposed to war with Iraq, this week made their feelings known by staging a series of protests on Wednesday.
As part of an international day of action organised by Youth Against the War hundreds of pupils from local schools, including Thornhill College, St, Columb's, Foyle and Londonderry and Lumen Christi signed petitions, held school-gate protests and attended rallies in the city centre.
Speaking during a school gate protest Brian Nelis, of St. Columb's College said he was delighted with the show of strength by sixth formers from the school and by students all over the city. He said it was about time those in power started to listen to young people and stop supporting a war that was only concerned with "cost of oil and not the cost of human life".
"This is a time when ordinary people with strong views on peace, justice and democracy can make a stand against those who wish to destroy the values on which our society should be based," Brian said. “Therefore we call on all those opposed to war to ensure that this issue is kept at the forefront of political consciousness and that history remembers us as a generation who's only conflict was a struggle for justice and whose only fight was for peace."
St. Columb's President Fr. Eamon Martin said the school was doing all it could to support the student's protest. He added that children from the junior school had also passed a petition around.
Pupils from Thornhill College took to the streets, protesting with placards and banners in Guildhall Square. Foyle and Londonderry students walked out at lunchtime, and a petition was circulated at Lumen Christi. Many other schools also followed suit.
Speaking yesterday a spokesperson from the Derry Anti-War Coalition commended the pupils for their actions, adding: "The demonstrations show the great wave of anger by young people across the world at the intention of the rulers of the US and Britain to launch an assault which will assuredly result in the deaths of many innocent civilians and young Iraqi conscript soldiers, and which is being undertaken in defiance of international law and strong public opinion around the globe.
"Their schools should be proud of them. We invite all the students who took part, and all who wanted to but were unable, to join the march at 2 p.m. this Saturday, International Women's Day, from the Waterside Health Centre to Guildhall Square, where a schools student will be among the all-woman platform of speakers.
"We urge the students and others to continue to make their voices heard against the war in the series of activities that the Coalition is organising in Derry, in coordination with antiwar groups across these islands and around the world, over the next days. If we can stop Tony Blair from joining in Bush's war, and pressurise the Dublin Government into withdrawing facilities at Shannon from US war forces, it is still possible to prevent this war."
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