Book of condolence opened for murdered schoolboy

People were today being invited to sign a book of condolence for murdered schoolboy Michael McIlveen.

People were today being invited to sign a book of condolence for murdered schoolboy Michael McIlveen.

The unionist-dominated council in the teenager’s home town of Ballymena, Co Antrim, agreed at its meeting last night to open the book.

The town’s Democratic Unionist Party mayor, Tommy Nicholl, and a number of other councillors have already signed the book.

Michael, 15, died in hospital on Monday after being beaten in the town centre last weekend.

Yesterday, five teenagers, including a 15-year-old, were remanded in custody changed with his murder.

Two other juveniles arrested on Wednesday evening are still being questioned by detectives.

Meanwhile, republicans have cancelled a hunger strike commemoration due to have been held near Ballymena tonight in a bid to ease tensions in the town.

Sinn Féin said the planned vigil was also being called off as a mark of respect to the dead boy’s family.

Philip McGuigan, Sinn Féin’s North Antrim MLA, said: “It became obvious to us that there were elements within unionism and loyalism that were intent on causing some kind of protest, so we had no desire to do anything that would add to community tensions.”

Sinn Féin has urged the Northern Ireland Assembly to hold a minute’s silence for Michael when it reconvenes next week.

Mr McGuigan said they had proposed to Stormont Speaker Eileen Bell that it should be the first item of business when members gather on Monday.

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