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Irish Education Ministry to clamp down on cyber-bullying -- four students suspended over teacher Facebook remarks

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The Irish Department of Education announced it is to step up its clamp-down on cyber-bullying after four Dublin high-school students are expected to be expelled from school after posting defamatory comments about their teachers on Facebook.

40 other students were similarly disciplined at Oatlands College, Dublin, this time for merely 'liking' the offensive status updated, while other sources say that the teachers were also subject to "vile" allegations on other social networking media such as Twitter.

The comments were posted after the school put on a production of the musical Hairspray at the St Patrick's weekend.

The comments were described by the Irish Times as being of a "sexual nature", were leveled against both a male and female teacher, and were posted onto a special Facebook page shortly after the production.

The three young teachers subject to the abuse were said to have been "upset" and "distraught" by the incident.
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Oatlands College is one of the top public, non-fee paying schools in the capital.

This is one of the first cases in which Irish high schools have met cyber-bullying with a punishment as severe as expulsion.

The news comes closely on the heels of Education Minister Ruairí Quinn's announcement of a major counter cyber bullying forum to take place this May.

The Anti Bullying Forum, to take place May 17th, will consider changes to existing national anti-bullying policies that could help curb the growing problem in Irish schools.

A Working Group will also be established with a remit to help address bullying against all ethnic minorities in Ireland.

"Bullying in school can ruin a young person’s enjoyment of some of the most important years of their life. In extreme situations, it can also, tragically, lead to a young person taking their own life," the Education Minister said.

The Forum has been welcomed by anti-bullying campaigners in Ireland; Michael Barron, executive director of BelongTo, said that the Forum was a "unique opportunity to ensure previous initiatives and other national and international innovative approaches are actually implemented in all schools."

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