Mid Ulster MLA calls for internet safety strategy after local teenager’s death

The funeral of 17-year-old Ronan Hughes at St Patrick's Church in Clonoelast month.
The funeral of 17-year-old Ronan Hughes at St Patrick's Church in Clonoelast month.
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Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend is calling on the First and Deputy First Ministers to take action on internet safety after the tragic death of Clonoe teenager, Ronan Hughes.

Ronan was laid to rest on Tuesday after taking his own life. He had been tricked into posting images of himself on a social networking site according to police.

Sandra Overend, UUP Mid Ulster MLA

Sandra Overend, UUP Mid Ulster MLA

UUP councillor, Sandra Overend said: “The Executive has a responsibility to ensure the protection of our children and young people and this includes their online safety.

“The drafting of an internet safety strategy is necessary in order to move forward to eliminate known threats and provide a much needed uniformity of approach by all departments.”

Offering her sympathies to the family of 17-year-old Ronan, who died last Friday, the mother of three said she has been pushing for this legislation for two years.

“The death of every young person is an absolute tragedy,” she added, “but this death comes in additionally worrying circumstances, given that there is suspected cyber-bullying involved.

A close-knit community has been torn apart as a result of cyber-bullying, which is a constant threat to our young people - Sandra Overend

“A close-knit community has been torn apart as a result of cyber-bullying, which is a constant threat to our young people,” she went on. “My sincere sympathies again go out to the family and friends of Ronan Hughes.

“He has been robbed of his future; his family has been robbed of a loving son; and the community has been robbed of a warm and popular sportsman.

“It is upsetting that the Office of First and Deputy First Minister know there are gaps in the delivery of internet safety advice within government departments,” she explained, “and we all know there is a lack of consistent advice for parents, and this results in children across Northern Ireland still being at threat.

“Progress on this issue by OFMDFM has been disappointing.”