16 May 2006

Crowd in tribute to murdered boy


Michael's uncles brought the coffin into the house

Hundreds of people have gathered in Ballymena, County Antrim, for the return of murdered schoolboy Michael McIlveen's body to his home.

The melody of 'There Were Roses,' a song about the futility of sectarian murder, was played as his coffin was taken inside the house in the Dunvale estate.

The 15-year-old's funeral is expected to be held on Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, two youths appeared in court in connection with his killing in the town last Sunday.

A 15-year-old teenager was charged with his murder, while a 16-year-old teenager was charged with causing affray.

Both of the boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were remanded in custody at Coleraine Magistrates Court.

Michael's mother Gina wept as the coffin was carried by his uncles past dozens of wreaths and a shrine to the murdered teenager into the house.

Many young people wearing Celtic and Rangers football shirts with the message 'Mickey-bo RIP' written on the back gathered in the rain outside the house.

Michael McIlveen died after being attacked in Ballymena

At the earlier court hearing on Monday, a detective opposing bail for the two accused said that the families of both teenagers had been threatened

He also said that tensions were high in Ballymena with fears of reprisals.

The detective told the court on Monday that when charged, the boys had replied "no" or "not guilty".

The youths spoke only to confirm their identities.

Tensions high

Magistrate Richard Rolston said tensions were clearly so high in the town that bail would not be granted.

The two youths are due to appear by video link with five other co-accused at Ballymena Magistrates Court on 8 June.

The police said a number of witnesses have still to come forward.

Five other teenagers are already in custody charged with the murder of the 15-year-old St Patrick's College pupil in Ballymena on 7 May.

The teenager died last Monday, the day after he was attacked by a gang at Garfield Place, Ballymena.

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