herald

Thursday 13 December 2018

Nicole's heartbroken mum marches on Dail to call for 'Coco's Law'

Jackie Fox
Jackie Fox

The heartbroken mother of a young woman who took her own life is calling for a meeting with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to discuss new laws against online bullying.

Jackie Fox and around 300 supporters yesterday marched to the Dail to demand the creation of Coco's Law.

Ms Fox's daughter, Nicole Fox Fenlon (21) - affectionately known as 'Coco' - died by suicide in January after being bullied online for years.

After her death, her family was determined to hold the people who tormented her accountable.

Sickening

However, despite finding evidence of sickening abuse on her phone, the family has been told that no law was broken.

It has spurred Ms Fox to call for a change.

"They have to put a law in place. They have to make online bullying an offence," she told the Herald after the march.

"I'm delighted with the turnout. This is just our first baby steps, but we are going to have more marches and more protests. I don't give up easily."

Ms Fox has plans to meet with TDs in Leinster House in three weeks, but ultimately, she wants to talk with Mr Flanagan.

"I will tell him that this isn't just an issue that affects rich families or poor families, it affects all sorts," she said.

"I will tell him about the personal heartbreak families suffer. They're going to have to look at making people accountable for their actions."

Ms Fox said she also wanted to see more accountability from social media companies.

"You can post a picture topless online and be reported and banned, but you can send these things and nothing happens," she added.

Ms Fox said bullies told her daughter they were going to kill her and made a number of other threats.

Earlier this week, the Herald revealed how Ms Fox had lost hope of brining Coco's tormentors to justice.

However, she now hopes her proposed law will ultimately save lives.

"There are other kids out there suffering right now," she said.

"The trouble started when Nicole was 18 and started going to local clubs. Bullies became jealous of her friendships and set up horrific social media pages to slag her."

Ireland's harassment laws have not been updated since the advent of text messages, meaning threatening messages sent on social media are not considered crimes.

Recently, a report from the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs urged the Government to introduce its proposed Digital Safety Commissioner without delay.

The committee said the current law should be changed to include "digital harassment" as part of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act.

Last year, a Labour Bill was published to modernise Ireland's existing harassment legislation to safeguard people against all forms of harassment.

These include stalking, cyber-bullying and so-called revenge porn.

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