Suspension lifted for student who posed with President McAleese

27 November 2004
By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

A SCHOOL has reversed a decision to suspend a student who had her photograph taken with President Mary McAleese during an official visit this week.
Ballinteer Community School in south Dublin had decided that Zainab Kadhum broke school rules and distinct orders not to ask the President to pose for pictures.

Despite protests from the students and her father the 17-year-old from Iraq was suspended for five days as a result of asking President McAleese to pose with her at the school on Wednesday morning. However, the suspension has been revoked and Ms Kadhum returned to school yesterday.

“In deference to the occasion and to avoid any possible misunderstanding, the school authorities have decided to revoke the suspension,” principal Austen Corcoran said yesterday afternoon.

The school had invited Mrs McAleese to watch students of the school take part in a wheelchair hurling match. The 400-pupil school has around 25 students with physical disabilities.

Mr Corcoran said students were told before the President’s arrival they were not to approach her and ask for photographs.

Ms Kadhum said a member of the President’s entourage had told her she could ask Mrs McAleese if she would have her picture taken with her. The President agreed to the photograph but the matter was later pursued with the student.

After missing classes on Thursday, Ms Kadhum returned to school yesterday after the suspension was lifted.

A spokesperson for the President said Mrs McAleese would not get involved in the situation as disciplinary issues needed to be dealt with by the school.

The standard protocol guidelines for institutions visited by the President tell hosts, while Mrs McAleese is happy to have her picture taken, people should not ask her to pose for personal photographs as she would not have time to facilitate everybody.

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