Recurring events within the Irish Occupied Six Counties (OSC) have, for me, served to prompt comparisons between the actions of authority figures within the education sector of said OSC, and those to be found in a similar position elsewhere in the world.
One such example, which leaps immediately to mind, is that of the conduct of some Catholic secondary school principals, with respect to the Orange Order.
For those of you unfamiliar with the aforementioned Orange Order, let me summarize by stating that it is a masonic-type institution founded in the OSC more than 200 years ago. It was established and maintained upon anti-Catholic principles and is therefore overtly sectarian.
In concert with other solely Unionist organisations, it conducted more than 1300 marches in 2007 alone (statistics from the Parades Commission), to serve a population of approximately 900,000 citizens. The PSNI (state force) has claimed that the number for that particular year is closer to 2300. In contrast, Nationalist organisations held just 144 marches in the same period to serve a population of approximately 800,000. These statistics are not unusual, and give a reliable indication of the intensity of marches and parades held by such a sectarian organisation as the Orange Order. Additionally, many of these anti-Catholic marches pass through either mixed Catholic/Protestant, or mostly Catholic areas, in what is widely understood to be an exercise in triumphalism by Unionists over their Nationalist (mostly Catholic) neighbours. Trouble inevitably follows such marches.
It was only a small number of summers ago, that an event took place at a museum dedicated to lauding and applauding the Orange Brethren and their infamous Institution. The former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, was present in her role as a misguided do-gooder; but it was the attendance of Catholic schoolchildren in school uniform that stood out. The principals of certain Catholic schools gave permission and encouragement to their students to attend this questionable occasion. Catholic children were in attendance at an event dedicated to an anti-Catholic organisation.
Imagine, if you will, a High school in Brownsville, Brooklyn; an area with a large majority black population. Consider that the principal of this centre of education is a black male, his faculty almost entirely of the black community and the student body also drawn entirely from this racial group. Then ponder the scenario whereby that principal encourages his young charges to attend an event at a museum dedicated to celebrating the greatness of the Ku Klux Klan.
Such an occurrence is inconceivable, because no black principal would be either arrogant enough or foolish enough to attempt to use schoolchildren in an effort to promote whatever misguided agenda said principal might favour. Should said principal attempt, or implement, such a move then he/she would surely face national outrage and be removed from their post.
This analogy could be said to fit perfectly with the actions of those Catholic school principals who allowed their students to be used in what was a pathetic manoeuvre for furthering the political intentions of an ambitious few.
I do wonder how it is, that the parents of pupils attending the educational centres involved have continued to remain silent in the face of the humiliating use of Catholic schoolchildren to lend credibility to what is, and always has been, an anti-Catholic Orange Institution.
Until society in the OSC wakens up to the full and ugly truth of the Orange Order, and then moves together to counter such an archaic mindset, the people of this region of Ireland will be forced to endure the constant scourge that is the sectarian Orange Order.