Newly-declassified documents released under the 20/30 year rule note that the first demonstration took place at a County Down secondary school on December 1, 1999.
Mr. McGuinness assumed office as Education Minister on December 2, 1999.
According to the formerly confidential files the Department of Education promptly arranged for an official to visit to the school and meet with the principal.
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In a confidential update dated December 10 the Chief Inspector of schools stated that: “There is circumstantial evidence which suggests that the demonstrations by pupils are being orchestrated...the spokespersons leading the protests use the same form of words and clichés; there are flags, banners etc in readiness when the protest begins; others, over school leaving age, turn up to support the protest; local, anti-agreement, politicians are soon on the scene, as are representatives of the Press.”