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'No-one has been held responsible': Case of Dara Quigley to come before Oireachtas committee

The journalist and activist died by suicide in April 2017. Weeks before, images of her had been shared widely online.

Journalist Dara Quigley
Journalist Dara Quigley
Image: Facebook

THE MOTHER OF Dara Quigley has called for the introduction of strong legislation in the area of online harassment and abuse, two years after the journalist and activist died by suicide. 

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) will bring the case of Dara before the Oireachtas Justice Committee this morning, and her mother Aileen Malone has backed the submission being made by the ICCL before the committee. 

The campaign group will today make calls to TDs and Senators for legislation on image-based sexual violence, known as revenge porn. 

Malone said such legislation is “needed urgently to protect all vulnerable people, their families and friends, and to reduce the cruel behaviour of a minority that can be shared and spread rapidly online causing widespread hurt and devastating consequences”. 

Dara had been walking naked on a Dublin street and CCTV footage of her arrest was uploaded to WhatsApp and subsequently to Facebook where it was viewed over 100,000 times.

She took her own life a number of days later.

As well as being known as a journalist, Dara Quigley was a prominent anti-water charge and anti-austerity activist.

Her mother Aileen added: “Dara used the power of social media but was also damaged through it. She believed in the power of free speech and the democratic process. It is right that her voice – through this submission by the ICCL – is being heard.”

ICCL submission

In its submission to the Oireachtas committee, the ICCL said that it takes issue with the term revenge porn because “it isn’t pornography, it’s abuse”. 

“Image-based sexual abuse is widespread,” it said. “Perpetrators include former/current intimate partners, acquaintances, and/or anonymous trolls.

Diverse experiences can range from chilling effects to online participation with peers, withdrawal from public spaces, job loss and loss of economic opportunity, widespread online and offline harassment, and significant mental health impacts.

Referencing the Dara Quigley case, the ICCL said that accountability for the use of the recording of her on the street and the effect it had on her mental health “remains elusive”. 

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“No individual or organisation has been held responsible,” it said.

This is in part because of an inadequate legal framework around the use and abuse of sexualised imagery without consent, a lack of transparency around individual company standards on moderation content and removal, and a culture of online harassment that mirrors real world ills.

The ICCL claimed that an absence of legislation in this area means that “perpetrators often go unpunished and victims are left without protection or justice”. 

It calls for specific laws to be implemented to criminalise image-based sexual abuse and ensure accessible civil remedies for online harassment, including restitution and compensation. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The ICCL will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee from 9am this morning. 

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

About the author:

Sean Murray

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