Two local schoolboys whose ugly words about the death of Oscar Knox sparked a social media frenzy are said to be devastated by their thoughtless actions.
The families of both have issued heartfelt apologies.
The boys, both pupils at St Michael’s Grammar School in the town, have already been interviewed by police on the matter and have both issued their own apologies online.
As news of the controversy broke social media sites Facebook and Twitter were awash with condemnation of the boys, with some posts descending into some ugly language of their own.
The family of Eoin McCluskey said: “We would firstly like to extend our deepest condolences to the Knox family on their loss, and for any undue distress that this has caused them and the wider community. We cannot condone what was said and are shocked and saddened by it. Our son has accepted full responsibility and is facing consequences for his actions through which we as a family will support him.”
The family of Michael Bunting told the ‘MAIL’: “As a family, we would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt sorrow at the impact that our son’s words/actions have had on so many people, and in particular of course, the pain and hurt that they must have caused to the Knox family.
“Michael is a child, who has up until now, been a good boy and we were proud to call him our son. Therefore we were every bit as shocked, saddened and horrified, just as the rest of society, to see the message that he posted on a social networking site. This action cannot be justified in any way, nor are we trying to excuse or condone it!
“We admit that Michael has done wrong and would like to publicly apologise to the Knox family, who are, we are certain, absolutely heartbroken by the untimely death of their beautiful son Oscar. We express our sincerest condolences to them on their terrible loss.
“We also apologise to all of the other people, who have been adversely affected by Michael’s actions; family, friends, sports clubs and his school, have all suffered as a consequence of our son’s actions.
“He made a thoughtless and cruel comment, which has resulted in public outrage, and ultimately then, in him being taught a very important lesson. We in no way want to make light of what he has said, and believe us when we say that we have discussed at length with him the irreparable hurt that he has caused.
“This being said though, we are satisfied, as his parents, that the public apology, which he himself has already published, is totally genuine. He is heartbroken by all the suffering he has caused, as we all are, and we can assure you that we will guarantee that nothing like this will ever happen again.
“We will, however as his family, continue to love and support him as we have always done. We truly believed that we had brought him up to show love and compassion to all, and in what he said, he failed to illustrate this. In the future, we sincerely hope that he will grow in knowledge, understanding and maturity and that someday he will prove himself to be the good person that we know he can be, and aspires to be.
“In return, we ask that he too is shown love and compassion, and that in time, people will forgive his cruel words, accepting that it was a massive mistake, which will never be repeated.”
In his apology Michael, a youth player with Portadown FC, said: “I made a severe error of judgement and understand people’s anger. I’ll suffer the consequences of my actions and again I’m truly sorry.”