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Dissident threat against Tyrone schoolboy: family have 'no idea' why 15-year-old has been singled out

By Cate McCurry

Published 30/10/2015

Sinn Fein MLA called for the dissident threat to be lifted after he visited the family (File photo)
Sinn Fein MLA called for the dissident threat to be lifted after he visited the family (File photo)

The family of a schoolboy who is under threat from dissident republicans say they have no idea why their son has been targeted.

Police officers visited their family home in the Omagh area to inform them about the threat, but could not tell them the level of the danger.

The 15-year-old is too afraid to leave his home and has missed school because he is in fear of being attacked. The teenager's father, who has asked to remain anonymous, told the Belfast Telegraph that the PSNI has passed on very little information about the threat.

He said his son has never been in trouble and hopes the police have made a mistake after they initially got his surname wrong.

"My son doesn't go out and I know he's not in anything," he said.

"It's an awful worry hanging over our heads. He's sitting in his room and hasn't really come out and has only went back to school once since the police told us.

"What gets to me is that there is no other information from police.

"He's a typical young lad and a lovely, gentle giant. He would do anything for anyone."

The family have been left living in fear and lock the doors every evening - something they say they rarely do.

"It's been tough on the family and he doesn't feel safe anywhere now. He has to go back to school on Monday and we don't know if he will," the boy's father added. "He was always laughing and bubbly, but not anymore.

"For a young lad to think that someone wants to beat him up or shoot him is terrifying. If we knew where this came from it might put our minds at ease.

"Every time he will go out he'll have this hanging over him. I just hope it works itself out."

Sinn Fein MLA for west Tyrone, Declan McAleer, said he has raised the issue with the Children's Commissioner and Police Ombudsman's Office.

Both say they have launched an investigation.

The MLA also called for those who issued the threat to lift it.

"Since the family contacted me, I have spoken to the PSNI at local level but unfortunately this has not provided any useful insight or answers," Mr McAleer said.

"I have also filed a complaint with the Police Ombudsman's office about how PSNI procedures in such instances can leave children feeling particularly vulnerable and isolated. Sinn Fein will also be raising this issue at the Policing Board.

"I am calling on the PSNI to immediately review how they deal with such threats, particularly where they relate to children and young people"

Responding to the compliant, a police spokesperson said: "We do not discuss the security of individuals. However, if we receive information that a person's lie may be at risk we will inform them accordingly.

"We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."

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