Mother fears dissolution of Dáil could push back online harassment laws

Mother fears dissolution of Dáil could push back online harassment laws
Nicole Fox and her mother Jackie

The heartbroken mother of a 21-year old who took her own life because of bullying says she hopes new legislation in her daughter's name will not be delayed by any new Government.

Over 22,000 people signed a petition to try and push through the new laws on online bullying and harassment which are currently with the Equality of Justice Committee - just days before the Dáil was dissolved.

This could mean that the legislation - known as Coco's law after tragic Dubliner Nicole Fox - could be pushed back to square one, according to her mum Jackie.

The draft legislation proposes a number of new offences to outdated laws including taking and distributing intimate images without consent, online or digital harassment, a specific offence of stalking, an expanded offence of sending threatening or indecent messages and revenge pornography.

Jackie, who moved to Wexford recently to escape seeing people she believes were involved in a long campaign of bullying against her daughter, is hoping any new Government will push the draft proposals back up to stage three to avoid any protracted delays.

Just days ahead of the second anniversary of Nicole's death on January 20, Jackie admitted that "every day is a struggle for her to carry on".

Nicole, 21, endured a sustained campaign of bullying which included cigarette butts being stamped out on her feet, dragged down a flight of stairs in a nightclub and being told to go and die in online attacks.

"She was knocked so hard into a table at a nightclub that she dislocated her hip and was elbowed in the face while out dancing," said Jackie.

"Every time she went out, I wouldn't go to bed because I knew I'd get the call from her to hurry down and bring her home.

Before she went out, she'd start throwing up with nerves but then she'd put on her make-up and ask me to take a picture of her smiling because she was determined not to let them win.

"They started abusing her online, even sending her videos on how to kill herself and telling her they'd put her on life support. She'd cry in bed every night and I'd lie beside her crying too."

As Nicole was over 18 and refused to make a statement, gardaí could not act.

Nicole took an overdose in 2015 but Jackie's world completely shattered in 2018, when she arrived home with her 14-year old son Lee to find Nicole had taken her life.

She was rushed to hospital and placed on life support but Jackie was told that the brain damage was too extensive and her organs would start shutting down.

I knew I had only minutes and I stroked her hair, told her how much I loved her and to go in peace. That no-one could ever hurt her anymore.

"Every day I struggle to go on and getting this legislation is keeping me going. I hate those who did this. I hate that they are out enjoying themselves while I'm sitting in crying.

"I received a letter from Brendan Howlin a few days ago saying that the legislation would be brought in and I know no-one is against it. I just hope that the new Government will push it straight back up to where it was with the Equality of Justice committee- and quickly and get Coco's Law into being."

- Anyone wishing to sign the petition which will be given to any new Government can do so on the Facebook page - Let's Bring in Coco's Law.

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