Ronan Hughes (17) anniversary: Priest warns of internet dangers

Ronan Hughes (17) was remembered at Mass in Co Tyrone on the first anniversary of his death

ON the first anniversary of the death of Co Tyrone teenager Ronan Hughes, a priest has warned of the continued threat to young people from the dangers of the internet.

Fr Benedict Fee dedicated his sermon at Mass in Clonoe on Sunday to the memory of the talented young GAA player.

The 17-year-old from Aughamullan, outside Coalisland, took his own life on June 5 2015 after being tricked into posting images online.

A pupil at St Joseph's in Donaghmore, he had been duped by a Nigerian crime gang into posting images of himself and was threatened with them being made public.

Ronan, a member of Clonoe O'Rahilly's GAA club, was described as a "quiet and modest young lad who was popular among all players and coaches".

During his funeral at St Patrick's Church in Clonoe, where he and his brother Cathal were altar boys, Fr Fee told mourners: "People took advantage of his youth and his beauty. They exploited him and they broke him."

He said the young GAA player's tragic death was a "direct result of online cyber-bullying and extortion".

On Sunday, the congregation in Clonoe remembered the teenager on the first anniversary of his death with Fr Fee warning of the dangers of the internet.

"When those evil people who wanted to strip Ronan of his modesty and dignity had done their worst, you dear people, parents, family, team-mates and school pals, people of Coole and beyond you were not slow in shrouding Ronan in your grief and tears but also you clothed him in your care and your prayer," he said.

"You laid him to rest with reverence, courtesy and love.

"And especially you young people of St Joseph's Donaghmore and of the O'Rahillys you took on at that time to honour Ronan's memory with the great resolve never personally and in so far as you could, never to permit anyone else, ever to use social media to bully, humiliate, or shame any man, woman or child.

"For yes social media can be used for a 1,000 goods, but sadly we know and no-one knows better than us that it was used for evil a year ago in the townland of Coole and to steal away the precious life of Ronan Hughes."

:: If you or someone you know is in distress or despair you can phone Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or The Samaritans on 08457 909090 (116123 in the Republic).


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