Iraq: Day X – Northern Ireland

Across Northern Ireland thousands of students walked out of schools on Day X, responding to the call from Youth Against War. The mood was determined.


Day X. Northern Ireland.

Thousands of school students walk out…
…thousands locked in

Earlier this week, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) had called for a Day X vigil in Belfast for Friday 21 March. However once war broke out, YAW decided to call out students on what the students would of course recognise as Day X, on 20 March. This followed weeks of campaigning for Day X protests by YAW.

From 3am onwards on 20 March, YAW and Socialist Party members put up posters around most of the schools in Belfast, calling for walkouts later that day.

Given, in many cases, the school authorities’ harsh measures to stop all students’ protesting, the response was brilliant. At least 1,000 school students rallied in Belfast city centre. Pupils from two schools in West Belfast found the authorities had blocked the way out and had placards taken off them. Two hundred were locked in at St Mary’s school.

The mood is so explosive in the schools and the response to the strike call so popular it is difficult to find out all the cases of walk out action across the North. For example, YAW members heard on 21 March that school students in Strabane have been out on strike for two days!

YAW members are getting reports from all over the North from students denied the right to leave schools. Around 400 came out in Omagh town and another 400 were locked in their schools.

Around 1,000 rallied in the centre of Derry city under the broad anti-war coalition banner. School students’ made up the biggest numbers. A YAW member addressed the rally.

Around 250 protested in Enniskillen, including 100 school students. Another 300 students were locked in schools in the town.

YAW has been inundated with many names of students looking for more information, for advice on how to fight the school authorities clampdown and to join YAW.

Today, 21 March, Socialist Party members and YAW ran stalls during the ICTU rally/silent vigil in Belfast City Centre. Around 200 turned up.

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March 2003