Letters extra: paramilitaries have no role in Norther Ireland

18th May 2001 at 01:00

The comments of Tom McKee on May 4 2001 on paramilitaries and school discipline were misjudged. I have taught for 10 years in a mainly Protestant school and many of our pupils have relatives with paramilitary connections. I am not aware of any situation where the paramilitaries have done anything other than harm to discipline in our school.

Paramilitary beatings are delivered to those who are unpopular with the paramilitaries. Some of the victims may well have been "anti-social", but all too often are simply unpopular. In any case, how much more anti-social can you be than to hold down a 17-year-old and drop breeze-blocks on his knee-caps?

I suggest there are two factors that may be responsible for the increase in misbehaviour in Protestant schools such as my own.

Political changes have lead to a decline in the influence of the RUC. Many RUC officers are demoralised by the changes and are no longer active in the battle against petty crime. At the same time, the UVF and UDA are engaged in a battle for control of Protestant estates. As well as last year's UDAUVF riots, many schools will have experienced a number of small fights related to the dispute, which may not have been reported but will have damaged discipline.

Every summer, the major disruption surrounding the Drumcree dispute results in many children being caught up in riots. Many children enjoy the excitement and drama of being allowed to blockade roads and turn away motorists. Having experienced this sort of power they do not easily revert to following a teacher's instructions.

The solution lies in persuading parents to take more responsibility for the discipline of their children, by supporting school discipline policies and by supporting the forces of law and order. The paramilitaries have no positive role.

Belfast teacher
(name and address supplied)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today