Student feels Milford protest “hijacked” their big day

A Loreto Community School student has criticised protesters at the Milford school on Monday for their behaviour, and for taking the focus from what should have been a celebration for the school.

A Loreto Community School student has criticised protesters at the Milford school on Monday for their behaviour, and for taking the focus from what should have been a celebration for the school.

In an email to the Donegal Democrat, the student, who signed the email “disgusted student”, was particularly critical of the egg that was thrown at the Taoiseach’s car when he arrived at the school.

The unidentified student, who said he or she was writing on their own behalf only, stated: “I saw 30-odd grown adults act like children. What sort of example is that to be setting for our kids? That it is okay to whine and moan about things to get your own way, to beat drums and wave banners, even to go as far as throwing eggs at the leader of our country’s car? I think that a small broadcast on the local radio would have done a lot more in the favour of the supporters of the ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ campaign.

“I am not one for voicing discontent, but today I witnessed first hand such a despicable, horrendous attempt to hijack a proud moment for my school that I felt compelled to speak up.

“I do not speak on behalf of the school, but of my own accord. Let that be clear before we begin.

“Shaun Sweeney, a marvellous student who deserves the utmost praise for his wonderful achievement - winning €150,000 worth of funding for the school in the first national ‘SmartClass’ competition, almost had his (and the school’s) day sabotaged by a pitiful attempt to use the school as a platform for a ‘political’ attack.

“All these protesters have achieved is degrading themselves to a level where they don’t even command the respect of the first-year students in the school.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but surely that can’t be seen as a step forward for a ‘political movement’ - bearing in mind that the age to vote is 18 years of age in this country.

“Let it also be understood that no-one is denying the ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ campaigners the right to a peaceful protest somewhere that they will not corrupt the minds of the younger generations.

“I understand, from some brushes with the majority of these folk in the past, that they consider it truly patriotic, truly republican to support this anti-austerity movement. But I wonder what would Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Eamon DeValera, James Connolly or big Jim Larkin have done if they were faced with the same economic challenge that An Taoiseach Kenny is today, regardless of their respective political orientation? I can assure you that they would be doing something an awful lot more productive, sensible and beneficial to our country’s state of affairs than to be engaging in childish chanting, and throwing eggs like national school children.

“It begs the question, were the ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ protesters parading in the wrong school yard?”

Meanwhile, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, a spokesperson for the Donegal ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ campaign and a west Donegal activist who was involved in organising yesterday’s protest in Milford, has responded to the emerging anger about the protest and the egg throwing incident in particular. He said their group can not be held responsible for the action of one individual:

“We stewarded that protest fairly well, but we can’t be held responsible for what one individual or a few individuals do, so there is no way this egg throwing incident can be blamed on our group.

“I know the media are doing quite a big thing about this. It would be more in the interest of the media to focus on the issues surrounding the protest instead of an egg being thrown at the Taoiseach.”

The Donegal Action Against Austerity Group, have distanced themselves from the protest. In a statement they said they were not involved in any way in yesterday’s protest in Milford. PRO Ryan Stewart said his members made a conscious decision to stay away from the protest yesterday because the event was a celebration for the school.