Schools meet internet company over sectarian hate messages

Police and representatives from schools in a town blighted by sectarian violence in the North today met an internet company about tackling hate messages on its site.

Police and representatives from schools in a town blighted by sectarian violence in the North today met an internet company about tackling hate messages on its site.

Representatives from hit teen site Bebo, which carried threats against teenagers in the wake of 15-year-old Michael McIlveen's murder in Ballymena in May, met police from the town and representatives from grammar and secondary schools on both sides of the religious divide.

Michael McIlveen was beaten by a gang, who identified him as a Catholic and chased him from cinema.

His murder attracted widespread revulsion, with the Rev Ian Paisley visiting his family to express his condolences.

The Orange Order, Independent Orange Institution and Royal Black Preceptory marching institutions condemned the murder as wicked.

Around 1,000 people attended his funeral, including scores of Protestant and Catholic teenagers.

The schools represented at today's meeting included St Louis Grammar, St Patrick's College, Ballee High School, Dunclug High School, Dunfane (special school), Slemish Integrated College, Ballymena Academy, Cullybackey High and Cambridge House Grammar School.

Ballymena police district commander Superintendent Terry Shevlin said the delegation had shared with Bebo experiences in relation to tackling sectarian violence and explored practical suggestions on sectarian attitudes among online and offline communities could be limited or eradicated.

He said: "The internet brings the world into our living rooms and provides a great educational tool for everyone. However, unfortunately sometimes the internet can be a place which opens the door to risk. The meeting was a multi-agency approach, which has proved extremely useful.

"We welcome the opportunity to talk to anyone that will reduce the level of risk to anyone within our society."

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