Priest at funeral of schoolboy warns of cyberbullying risk

Mourners pay tribute to Ronan Hughes (17) at St Patrick’s Church, Clonoe

Police continue to investigate the death of a teenage boy who was being bullied online.

It is believed Ronan Hughes (17) from Co Tyrone, took his own life after being duped into posting images on the internet.

A priest at the funeral of the schoolboy has called for the bullies to be brought to justice.

Hundreds of mourners packed St Patrick's Church outside Clonoe for Requiem Mass today, where local parish priest Fr Benny Fee warned of the dangers of the internet.

Fr Fee said "faceless people" had taken his life...And while I wish that faceless man or woman no ill, that man or woman who lured this child into a web that took his life, I do pray with all my heart that they may be caught and that they might be brought to justice for the pain and the agony they have brought to the Hughes family."

Later, Fr Fee warned about the risks the internet poses for everyone.

“Ronan was young, he was beautiful. He had his whole life in front of him,” he added.

“But with youth comes its own fragility, and some people took advantage of his beauty and fragility.

“They exploited him and they broke him, and if they could do that to such a sensible fella as Ronan, they could do that to anyone.”

Earlier, Superintendent Mike Baird, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said their enquiries were continuing.

Ronan, a grammar school pupil and keen GAA player was found dead in the Coole Road area of Coalisland on Friday.

Tributes have been left on Clonoe community Facebook pages.

His gaelic football team, Clonoe O’Rahilly’s said the tragedy had cast a dark shadow.

A statement said: “Ronan was a youth player, having played goalkeeper throughout his short youth career. He was a quiet and modest young lad who was popular among all players and coaches. His death has left a dark shadow hanging over our club.”

Earlier, Superintendent Mike Baird, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said their enquiries were continuing.

The PSNI has issued a warning for young people to stay safe online.

“If anyone has experienced anything of a similar nature or has received any inappropriate images or links, it is important that they contact police or tell a trusted adult. By doing this you will be helping prevent further such incidents. You will not get into trouble.

“We all deserve to be able to use the internet to learn, explore and connect with each other. But all of us need to be aware of the risks involved in doing so, especially on social media.”

Samaritans offers confidential support for those who need to talk to someone.

Contact them by 116 123 (in the Republic) or phone on 08457 90 90 90 (UK), via email jo@samaritans.org or details of your local branch are available at samaritans.org.

How to stay safe online

• Don’t share personal information or images with people you don’t know;

• Don’t accept friend requests with someone you don’t know;

• Set your privacy settings on all devices;

• Don’t post anything online that you are not happy to be shared;

• If someone has made you feel uncomfortable or you have had disturbing interaction online, tell someone you trust.

PA