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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Anti-Sinn Fein school walkout
Martin McGuinness in his education office at Rathgael House
Teacher was "not aware" McGuinness would attend
Pupils from a school in County Tyrone have left a prizegiving ceremony in Belfast after the education minister Martin McGuinness arrived unexpectedly.

The children from Aughnacloy Primary School were due to receive a prize for their entry in the regional schools heat of the Young Engineers and Scientists Exhibition on Tuesday.

However, when Mr McGuinness arrived at the ceremony the pupils' head teacher, Billy Tate, ushered them out of the building.

Mr Tate said it was part of his school's policy not to meet Mr McGuinness.

'Responsibility'

He said the school had not been told he would be at the ceremony.

"We have lost parents and bus drivers to terrorism and the principal of the high school was shot - all by the IRA.

"In this area the oldest farming son was targeted. We see the results of that in school," he said.

"The parents have every right to make the decision that they wish to make and I have the responsibility to carry that out in school."

Hardline unionist opposition

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness re-took the post of education minister when the Northern Ireland power-sharing Executive was reinstated at the beginning of June.

When he returned to education headquarters at Rathgael House in Bangor, County Down, he was jeered by a crowd of loyalist protesters.

UVF emblems and Ulster and Union Flags were also raised on lampposts outside the building.

Sinn Fein's inclusion in the executive is opposed by the anti-Good Friday Agreement Democratic Unionist Party.

The party, which is opposed to sharing power with Sinn Fein because of its links with the IRA, has succeeded in getting a debate in the assembly on a motion to have Mr McGuinness and health minister Bairbre de Brun excluded.

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02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein criticised over flag stance
08 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness denies 'retreat' claims
29 May 00 | Northern Ireland
The Stormont ministers
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