Outrage as Catholic boy Michael McIlveen mocked on murder anniversary
The family of a Catholic schoolboy murdered in a vicious sectarian attack in Ballymena 10 years ago has hit out at those who mocked his death on the anniversary.
Michael 'Mickey Bo' McIlveen died on May 8, 2006, aged just 15, the day after he was brutally assaulted and beaten with a baseball bat after being chased through the Co Antrim town's centre by a gang of Protestant youths.
Yesterday his sister Jodie McIlveen Donegan posted a picture on social media of children visiting his grave at Crebilly Cemetery in Ballymena.
However, there was outrage on Facebook when at least two posts included laughing 'emojis' - icons depicting emotions - in a discussion of the murder. It prompted fury from many, including Ms Donegan, who wrote on Facebook: "Michael is my brother, how dare anyone criticise him? He was purely murdered for being a Catholic.
"Catch a grip, laughing and slabbering - it's people like you is why this place is the way it is!"
One of those in the firing line over the laughing emoji later attempted to apologise, saying on Facebook: "I'm sorry for that there like. Must of (sic) done that when I was drunk..."
Another of Michael's sisters, Francine McIlveen, said on Facebook: "Acting the big man in front of your friends with a bit of drink in you... catch yourself on you bitter wee b******.
"Don't think you would find it funny if it was one of your own family members."
The person responded: "I've took it down and said sorry for it! I know sorry doesn't cut it but there's not much more I can do."
The row created a huge debate on social media. One person said: "It's absolutely ridiculous that there is still bitterness in this town."
A number of young men from Ballymena were convicted in relation to the attack on the St Patrick's College pupil, some for murder.