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Irish schoolchildren back Palestinians and shout IRA slogans

Pupils at Coláiste Feirste school holding Palestinian flags
The protest was organised by sixth former Pádraig de Brún

A school in Belfast has faced backlash after pupils staged a “completely inappropriate” lunchtime protest in support of Palestine and repeated IRA slogans.

Photographs shared and later deleted by Coláiste Feirste school on Twitter showed a group of at least 50 students demonstrating in the playground with teachers appearing to monitor them.

The organiser of the protest, sixth former Pádraig de Brún, addressed the demonstration and ended his speech by quoting IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands: “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children”.

In a post that remains on their Twitter page, the school said: “Some students organised a demonstration for the rights and justice of Palestine yesterday, showing the big and generous heart they have and their commitment to the people around the world.”

The Irish-medium secondary school faces calls to take action and to “educate their pupils” on the atrocities taking place in Israel following the demonstration.

In a written statement provided by the school to The Telegraph, Mr de Brún said he was aware of “some of the similarities” between the Israel-Palestine conflict and “here in the north”.

‘Peaceful protest’

He said: “On Wednesday, I organised a peaceful protest in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Having a keen interest in politics and studying A-Level History, I am aware of some of the similarities to the conflict here in the north.

“I spoke to my fellow students and briefly explained some of the background of the region.

“This protest was not an endorsement of Hamas or any other political organisation, but merely to highlight the ongoing plight of these people.”

Speaking of his choice to quote Sands, he said: “My interpretation of that quote is that during times of conflict and hardship, it is our hope that love will prevail and that the laughter of our children will be heard once again as opposed to the suffering that children on both sides of this conflict have been subjected to.”

Bob Blackman, the MP for Harrow East and the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Israel, said teachers “should have prevented these demonstrations taking place”.

Mr Blackman told The Telegraph: “It’s completely inappropriate for things like this to take place in schools full stop.”

He added: “It demonstrates the concern about what is being taught in schools and what opportunity there is to look... at the levels of premeditated violence towards civilians that obviously have taken place. The teachers have responsibility in this regard as well.”

Mr Blackman also questioned whether students holding a demonstration in support of Israel following the terror attacks would have been handled similarly by teachers.

“It would be interesting to see what would have happened if some children had come out and one one was, or several were, waving Israeli flags and one was making a speech about the dreadful things that have happened. Would the teachers have intervened?”

‘Absolutely abhorrent’

A spokesman for the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said schools should be “inclusive environments with balance and impartiality at the centre of a well-rounded education”.

They added: “To imply in any way that Hamas’ brutal terrorist onslaught against innocent civilians was laughable or positive is absolutely abhorrent and we call on the school to take action and educate their pupils on this atrocity.

“We urge all schools to reach out to their Jewish students, or their local Jewish community, or UJS, and ensure they are equipped to handle these matters during these deeply challenging times.”

Coláiste Feirste has been approached for comment.