Local teenagers fear reprisals over girl's death

 

CALL FOR CALM:AMID RISING tensions in the community of Ballybofey, Co Donegal, following the funeral yesterday of 13-year-old bullying victim Erin Gallagher, gardaí in the locality have called for calm.

They are urging any local children who feel “under pressure” to come and speak to gardaí with their parents.

Senior officers in the region and at Garda headquarters in Dublin, are concerned that some local children have been identified as being among a group that had allegedly bullied Erin in recent months and they now feared reprisals.

“There has been a lot of vitriol on the internet in the past few days, with the kids suspected of the bullying being outed,” said one source.

“It’s a small community and there would be concerns that tensions could rise even further and that this situation could get out of hand, so obviously nobody wants that.”

Another source confirmed that two local teenagers had presented to gardaí with their parents on Tuesday. They were concerned for their safety after being accused by some people in the community of having bullied Erin.

Their parents spoke to gardaí about the case and both families were given security advice.

Gardaí are hopeful that this approach will be repeated by any other families who feel their children have fallen under suspicion locally and are under pressure as a result. Sources stressed that, while the two teenage girls who went to gardaí on Tuesday had been spoken to about the case, there had been no arrests and it had not yet been determined if any criminal offences had been committed.

Erin’s mother, Lorraine Gallagher, has said she believes her daughter was bullied online and at school for months before she took her life last Saturday.

In a post on Ask.fmjust 24 hours before she died, Erin made reference to other children targeting her with taunts and a rumour linked to an alleged physical attack on her.

Erin was babysitting her brother at the family home on the Silverwood estate on Saturday when she took her life. When her mother returned to the house she found Erin.

Medical attention arrived immediately, but the second-year pupil at Finn Valley College, Stranorlar, was pronounced dead at the scene. She had previously tried to take her life in recent weeks.

Erin’s mother had become concerned for her daughter and two months ago reported the bullying to gardaí. She has said she believes an examination of her daughter’s phone and social media accounts will show her daughter was subjected to serious bullying.