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School pays tribute to John Paul who endeared himself to many with ‘infectious personality’

A Co. Armagh school has paid tribute to one of its pupils following his shock passing.

John Paul Smyth was tragically pulled from the water in Warrenpoint on Saturday following his disappearance on New Year’s Eve.

Search teams had been trawling the coastline for days until the sad discovery was made by the coastguard.

Police confirmed the news last night.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Thank you to everyone for all your help and support and who shared our appeal to find missing teenager 15 year John Paul (JP) Smyth.

“Sadly, we are no longer searching for JP and offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends this evening.”

JP was a pupil at St Paul’s High in Bessbrook.

They said support will be made available to pupils when they return to school on Monday, while the oratory will be opened today (Sunday).

A spokesperson for the school said: “The tragic and accidental death of our esteemed Year 12 pupil JP Smyth has shocked and saddened us all.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire St Paul’s community go out to JP’s family and friends.

“JP’s infectious personality and his friendly smile endeared him to so many pupils and staff at St Paul’s.

“The school oratory will be open tomorrow (Sunday 5 January) from 12.00 noon – 2.00 p.m. as a location for our pupils, their families and any members of staff who would like to gather and remember JP.

“Support will be available to any pupils who are affected by JP’s death on their return to school on Monday.

“If you’ve been affected by JP’s death and wish to talk to someone who can help you, you can contact the Lifeline helpline on 0808 800 8000.”

Speaking last night, Independent councillor Mark Gibbons said: “It is incredibly hard to find the words at this moment regarding the tragic passing of young John Paul Smyth.

“Paul’s body was found today at Warrenpoint Pier and his family have been notified.

“I am confident in saying that all the people of Warrenpoint and surrounding areas are truly devastated by this tragic development and I know that this community will rally around the family and friends of JP as they mourn the passing of their beloved son.

“I would like to personally thank the Coast Guard, Emergency Services, Diving Teams, Search & Rescue teams, PSNI, Voluntary Search teams and the Warrenpoint community for their heroic and tireless work, regarding the search operation for John Paul.

“This is believed to have been a tragic accident and my thoughts and prayers are with John Paul’s dear family and friends at this tragic time.”

Independent councillor Jarlath Tinnelly added: “Very sad news from Warrenpoint tonight, young man’s body has been recovered from the water.

“Initial indications are this was nothing more than an tragic accident.

“My thoughts and prayers are with John Paul’s family and this tragic time. RIP.”

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