Only A Game? Ronan Hughes’ tormentors are vile cowards

Ronan Hughes
Ronan Hughes

I hope the people who tormented and blackmailed 17 year-old Gaelic footballer, Ronan Hughes, are brought to justice.

So called members of the human race decided to blackmail Ronan. They threatened to post images of him online if he failed to pay £3,000 within 48 hours. Tragically, the incident resulted in Ronan taking his own life.

I can’t find the words to express how much sadness and anger I felt when I read about what happened to Ronan.

At 17 years-old you literally have your whole life in front of you. Ronan was passionate about playing football and impressively his club came out to show their support for their team mate at his funeral.

How dare these people seek out to demonise, berate, bully and torment ordinary everyday people. How dare they. How dare they. How dare they.

I have no idea who the people are who did this or where they are from but I would urge anyone reading this column with information to contact the police immediately.

I hesitate in using the word people to describe those responsible for the death of Ronan because that word suggests they possess humanity, humility and compassion.

What they did was nothing short of vile and horrifying and they should never be allowed to ever do this to another human being ever again.

Ronan Hughes’ death cannot be in vain.

Ronan’s parents believe that had the PSNI reacted quicker when they contacted them their son would still be alive today.

Three days before taking his life Ronan told his parents what was happening to him. Ronan and his mother visited the local police station only to be told there was very little they could do. Ronan and his mother were told to ignore the blackmail and to return to the police station the next morning.

“If the police had given Ronan reassurance and said ‘We’ll contact IT experts, we’ll close this down, we’ll stop that - Ronan would still be here today, that’s why he came to us, he wanted help,” said Ronan’s father in an interview with ‘The Irish News’.

Sadly, despite Ronan’s parents’ best efforts to convince their son they would tackle the issue of the images being posted online together, Ronan felt he had no way out. His dad described finding his son’s body as the “worst experience of his life”.

Cyber bullying is as real an issue facing not just young people but anyone who uses a computer, a Smartphone or tablet to communicate over the Internet. We, as a society must take it seriously and telling people to simply ignore it is just not good enough.

I’ve read several articles around the death of Ronan and by all accounts he sounded like a remarkable young man.

Ronan was a loving and caring son, he loved music and had just returned from seeing the Foo Fighters at Slane Castle and he adored playing Gaelic football.

Ronan and all young people like him are precisely the kind of people we, as a society, should be standing up to protect.

The Internet and social media is ever changing and is always finding more and more ways to invade the most valuable parts of our life but what will always remain the same is our desire to protect and help one another.

Shame on us if we allow what happened to Ronan happen to another human being!