Academy criticised by lobbyists on national anthem policy

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The principal of Banbridge Academy has received a letter from a political lobby group, Dromore Unionist Voice, criticising the school for no longer playing the national anthem at the school’s Remembrance Day service.

In the letter to Mr Raymond Pollock, Dromore Unionist Voice said: “Last year it was very disappointing to hear that your school dropped playing the national anthem in case it offended Roman Catholics and other minority religious pupils who attend your school.”

Two years ago the Leader reported that a petition had been launched after a number of pupils were understood to be unhappy the playing of the national anthem was not included in the Remembrance Day Service.

The group went on to ask: “If in the future a member of the Royal family visits your school will you and your school offend them by not playing the national anthem?

“Will your school ban all national anthems?”

Dromore Unionist Voice also accused the school of “brushing the British and Unionist culture under the carpet.

“Why should Protestant parents send their children to your school when they are being treated like second class citizens, when their unionist culture is not being displayed?” the Dromore group asked.

Highlighting the fact that soldiers from Dromore and Banbridge fought during two World Wars, Dromore Unionist Voice added: “It is respect to every country who fought in the two world wars to play their national anthem and fly their national flag on flag posts at all Remembrance services in schools and at churches/war memorials.”

A spokesperson for the Southern Education and Library Board said there was no general policy on issues such as the playing of the national anthem and that it was a matter for individual schools to decide.

The school were contacted yesterday (Monday) but no one was available for comment.