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Saturday 20 September 2014

Bullied Erin's mum says she was victim of sex assaults

Erin Gallagher: death has stunned community

BULLIED schoolgirl Erin Gallagher was left vulnerable because she had been the victim of sexual assaults last year, her mother has said.

Lorraine Gallagher (36) told how her daughter gave evidence in a court case on a number of indecent assault allegations against a boy.

Ms Gallagher also said Erin was bullied by older people, including an older teenager and a young adult. Gardai are investigating those claims.

Erin (13) took her life nine days ago after being tormented at school and online.

Her mother has called for measures to end bullying in schools so that the death of her child will not have been in vain.

She said Erin had been the victim of a number of indecent assaults and these were investigated by gardai.

They were dealt with in a juvenile court, but when Erin became a victim of bullying the previous trauma made her more vulnerable.

"It got to the stage where I had to collect Erin and Shannon (her older sister) from Finn Valley College," said Ms Gallagher.

"I would appeal to the authorities to do something across this country so that no-one else's child goes through what Erin went through."

She said she had reported the bullying to gardai and the school.

It is understood gardai have now interviewed the two older people alleged to have bullied Erin.

Ms Gallagher said her daughter had left a note before taking her own life.

"The gardai have told me what's in the note but I haven't seen it myself," she said.

"It was taken away after Erin's death along with her phone.

"The last text message she received read 'slut'."

The campaign of bullying against Erin began in the summer. It is claimed that a number of teenage girls, assisted by the older people, turned on her.

"Something has to be done about bullying, about internet bullying and about teenage suicide," said Ms Gallagher.

"I just hope Erin is the last here, and that no one has to go through what she went through."

Mayor of Donegal Frank McBrearty, who sits on the board of management at Finn Valley College, called for calm in the wake of Erin's death.

Attacks

He was reacting to attacks on homes in the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar.

Mr McBrearty, who dedicated his year in office to mental well-being, plans to launch a campaign promoting sport as a tool to battle depression next month.

"It must be said that the State has launched very good campaigns to help reduce deaths on our roads," he said.

"Our Government now urgently needs to do the same about suicide."

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Irish Independent

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