Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke.
Minister for Education Norma Foley has said a video of an attack on a teenage in Co Meath should never have been posted online.
The video has been widely circulated on social media platforms in the past week, showing the 14-year-old being attacked by a number of youths. The incident took place on at around 2.30pm on Monday afternoon and has drawn widespread condemnation.
Speaking to RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms Foley confirmed she has spoken directly with the principal of the boy’s school. She acknowledged the incident did not take place on school grounds, but noted “all the young people involved attend the school”, adding a disciplinary process would be a matter for the school’s board of management.
A separate garda investigation is also underway.
The Minister said people have been “shocked and appalled beyond measure by what has transpired over the last number of days”.
She added she was conscious of the boy who was “subjected to such a terrifying ordeal”, offering him support and good wishes.
Ms Foley said the boy and his family are receiving support, adding he is “keen to return to school in the coming days” having required hospital treatment for his injuries. The Department of Education’s psychological services are also working with the school “for whatever additional supports they might need,” she said.
Regarding footage of the incident shared online, the Minister said its circulation “adds to the horror” of the attack.
She said the video has been copied over 5 million times across various platforms, adding: “It makes it very, very difficult for it to be removed when it has been forwarded on so many different times.”
Ms Foley urged for members of the public to stop sharing the video, and called for social media companies to remove it from their platforms.
“It should never, ever have been posted in the first place, and I think that’s the most important consideration. But secondly, we’re very conscious of the need for it to be immediately withdrawn or taken down.”
“I think everyone, right across society, must take ownership and a responsibility for material of this nature.
“The statistics show us that it was really forwarded by adults for a variety of different reasons. I’m not casting aspersions on the motivation, it might well have been out of shock or whatever, but I think all of us in society need to take a second look at how we ourselves operate on social media platforms,” Ms Foley said.