Of course the department’s rules don’t apply to members of the Minister’s own party…

Oh dear, naughty naughty Sinn Fein

Publicly-funded schools were warned that their premises were not to be used if it could be “regarded as aimed at canvassing for votes for any particular political party or any particular political party election candidate”.

But just days before voters went to the polls, Sinn Fein candidate Francie Molloy was filmed inside a school with Education Minister John O’Dowd – whose department issued the ban.

Here’s the Minister’s circular which reminds schools they are actually bound by statute (Regulations 6 of the Primary Schools: General Regulations (NI) 1973 and
regulation 7 of the Secondary Schools (Grant Conditions) Regulations (NI)
1973, if yer asking?).

The party didn’t just break the law once, as the Telegraph notes:

On Monday, February 11, Mr Molloy, who is also the local Sinn Fein MLA, was videoed on An Phoblacht News/Sinn Fein TV, directly outside the gates of Holy Trinity College in Cookstown, a Catholic maintained school, being endorsed by one of its teachers, Peter Canavan.

Mr Canavan, who is also a former Tyrone GAA star and now manager of Fermanagh, backed Mr Molloy in the by-election video.

In the footage he describes Mr Molloy as “a very ardent supporter of Holy Trinity College and our pursuit of a new build”.

Just 10 days later Mr Molloy was back in Holy Trinity, which sits in the Mid Ulster UK Parliament constituency, on a visit with Sinn Fein Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

Then, on February 25, he was snapped with Education Minister John O’Dowd at Joseph’s Primary School in Galbally – the same Co Tyrone village where Mr Molloy launched his Mid Ulster by-election campaign just three weeks earlier on February 3.

The law? What law? The British law? Oh go away or I will taunt you a second time!!

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  • Lionel Hutz

    Sure they flout the GAA’s rules by trying to hold advice centres in them, so why not schools too.

    Sinn Fein don’t see themselves as a political party anyway, they see themselves as part of the fabric of Irish Society and go hand in hand with the GAA clubs and schools and probably to a lesser extent the church.

  • Big Boss

    It hasn’t been the first time that Peter Canavan has tried to give Sinn Fein a boost by using (shameful?) plugs in the media. This was a rather mi-leading video especially since their where other MLAs involved in helping holy trinity, including the SDLP candidate and some would argue Mr Molloy had very little input at all.

    Canavan seems to be the go to man when it comes to Tyrone elections, rather it is in his constituency or not. I recall posters being issues of Tyrone “legends” in a local paper 2 or 3 years ago, all sponsored by local businesses, Mr Canavans poster carried the SF logo.

    As for breaking rules put down to departments, when have SF ever cared about rules? sure didn’t they register the dead to vote at elections?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    What’s the point in even bringing it up?

    SF’s partners in government will do nothing about it (like when the party was confirmed to be actively discriminating against protestant workers in their departments) and their voters simply don’t care about this kind of thing. They will vote for a donkey with a tricolour if they are told to.

    All in all it’s one of those things which just epitomises the sham terrorism appeasement process and anti-democratic devolved Assembly the majority of Unionists want to see shut down.

  • Mick Fealty

    Better out than in… I think rather than exercising your political animus some shorter to the point comment would be more effective.

  • Big Boss


    They breached the rules, shouldn’t the minister now set out the correct punishment to those involved.

    Short and to the point.

  • USA

    Seems the “rules” don’t apply to anyone. Even directly outlining party policy in this clip from Riverdale Primary School near Lisburn.

  • son of sam

    It seems quite clear that Sinn Fein have little regard for the G A A’s rule about being non party political.Given Canavan’s iconic status in Tyrone,he probably feels quite free to endorse S F at any election time they feel useful.It was particularly noticeable when grant-aid was announced at Stormont for the Garvaghey centre of excellence in Tyrone,that the photo opportunity included only S F M L A s and excluded the S D L P M L A for West Tyrone,Joe Byrne.No doubt at the next Assembly elections ,that photograph will appear in the Shinners candidates literature .It remains to be seen what the Tyrone Co Board attitude to being seen as S F acolytes ,is.They would do well to remember that the G A A is a broad church and not the preserve of any political party.

  • 6crealist

    It’s really no wonder that a lot of northern Protestants look to the GAA with suspicion.

    The Shinners continue to politicise a non-political organisation in the same way that they use [i] ár theanga dhúchais [/i] as a political weapon.

  • Big Boss

    Tyrone GAA have been happy to go along with photos with SF for years, cant see why they would change now. The board have always refused to do anything about SF using grounds in Tyrone for political purposes.

  • sherdy

    UPC – You wouldn’t have been thinking about a recent ‘unity’ candidate with your equine reference, would you?

  • BarneyT

    Little donkey, little donkey
    On the campaign trail
    Got to keep on plodding onwards
    You were sure to fail.

    Been a long time, little donkey
    Through the winter’s night
    Don’t give up now, little donkey
    You talk some shite

    Ring out those bells tonight
    DFM, DFM
    Follow that star tonight
    DFM, DFM.

  • redhugh78

    There is a lot of people who seem to have great difficulty dealing with yet another elctoral success for SF.

    I feel your pain.

  • Seamuscamp


    Just to clarify. Are you saying that “outside the gates” is the same thing as “inside the premises”? It does weaken a case when the basis is inaccurate.

    Clearly it has become common for politicians to break the rules (we are surprised) but the real question is, what can be done about it?


    “their voters simply don’t care about this kind of thing. They will vote for a donkey with a tricolour if they are told to.”
    You smooth-talking freethinking rationalist!

    “All in all it’s one of those things which just epitomises the sham terrorism appeasement process and anti-democratic devolved Assembly the majority of Unionists want to see shut down.”
    What would you like to see in its place? Come on, be your usual clearheaded self! Help us appreciate the error of our ways