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Thursday 21 August 2014

Fresh teen bully probe in town where sisters took own lives

Greg Harkin

Published 08/02/2013 | 04:00

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Erin Gallagher (13), left, and her sister Shannon (15) took their own lives last year

GARDAI are investigating fresh bullying allegations against teenagers in the town where two sisters took their own lives.

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The inquiry comes as the HSE reviews its handling of the cases of Erin Gallagher (13) and her sister Shannon (15) who died six weeks apart in Co Donegal, last year.

A number of teenagers wrongly accused of cyber-bullying Erin have now themselves become victims of bullies.

Erin and Shannon Gallagher were from Ballybofey and were students at Finn Valley College in nearby Stranorlar.

Erin died in October amid allegations she was being bullied online. Her sister took her own life six weeks later.

The Irish Independent has also learned that Shannon had unsuccessfully attempted to take her own life just a week before Erin's death.

Gardai believe the the bullies deliberately let Erin believe that a group of innocent girls were responsible for the online taunts.

Now a number of wrongly-accused teenagers have been victimised too.

In one case a young girl was called a "murderer" while out with friends in Ballybofey recently. Another was asked: "Did you kill anyone this week?"

"There are at least a dozen teenagers involved in the bullying of these young girls," said one source.

"Their lives have been turned upside down despite the fact they were not involved at all.

Taunts

"Their parents had taken them off social media sites months before Shannon's attempt to take her life in October and Erin's subsequent tragic death a few days later."

Erin had been taunted on the controversial ask.fm website where users can post comments anonymously.

Those behind the taunts may never be identified. Officially, gardai will only say investigations into the sisters' deaths are continuing.

One source, however, said: "There are no winners in this tragic case. The irony of course is that at least a dozen teenagers are now doing to these girls what was done to Erin."

Meanwhile, the HSE has refused to issue any statement on its internal review on the Gallagher sisters' case.

Sources close to the family, however, have confirmed to the Irish Independent that Shannon was admitted to hospital five days before Erin's death.

Irish Independent

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