12 May 2006

SF cancels hunger strike commemoration

11 May 2006 22:59

Sinn Féin says it has cancelled a hunger strike commemoration planned for Porglenone tomorrow in a bid to ease tensions over the sectarian murder of a Catholic schoolboy in nearby Ballymena.

The party said a planned vigil near the town where Michael McIlveen, 15, was beaten to death at the weekend had been called off.

It said the move was also a mark of respect for the victim's family.

Earlier, five teenagers have appeared in court in Ballymena accused of murdering Michael McIlveen.

Michael died after he was severely beaten by a gang in the Co Antrim town in the early hours of Sunday. All five of the defendants are from the Ballymena area.

The youngest accused is 15 years old and two of the others are aged 17. They cannot be named for legal reasons.

Also accused of the murder are Christopher Kerr, 19, from Carnduff Road in the town, and Arron Wallace, 18, from Moate Road in the town.

A PSNI detective told the court Christopher Kerr replied not guilty when the charge of murder was put to him.

The other defendants made no reply when charged. They were all remanded in custody until 8 June next.

The death of the teenager, given its vicious nature and his young age, shocked Northern Ireland in recent days and has been condemned by political and religious leaders on all sides.

A vigil is tonight being held outside the McIlveen home in the Dunvale housing estate in Ballymena. The funeral of the teenager is expected to be held early next week.

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