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Mother of young woman who took her own life after online abuse meets with Justice Minister

Jackie Fox released a statement this evening following the meeting.

Jackie Fox
Jackie Fox
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THE MOTHER OF a 21-year-old woman who took her own life after a prolonged period of online abuse has met with Justice Minister Helen McEntee about new legislation to tackle abuse online.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 covers a wide range of offences, including online abuse, cyberbullying, and image-based abuse.

Jackie Fox is the mother of Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox Fenlon, who took her own life in 2018 after a period of prolonged abuse online.

Fox met with the Justice Minister this afternoon about naming the law ‘Coco’s law’ in her daughter’s memory.

 In a statement released after the meeting, Jackie Fox said that the Minister had listened to the story of what happened to Nicole. 

She said that after being told multiple times that the new laws would be named after her daughter, she found out on 3 December that that wouldn’t be the case.

The Minister and her advisor then explained that the Attorney General’s advice is to the effect that including Coco’s name in any form in the title of the new bill may influence juries in cases dissimilar to that of Coco’s experiences of harassment and intimidation both offline and online.

“I disagreed with the Minister on this point but accept that at this point in time, and so close to the enactment of the Bill, there is little space left in which to campaign on this particular issue.”

Jackie Fox did say that the Minister pledged to find other ways to remember Nicole.

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“The Minister, at the meeting, did make two proposals with regards to how Coco’s memory can be preserved and how her story can be enshrined in the memories of the people of Ireland as a means to combatting online harassment, bullying and intimidation,” Fox said. 

“Firstly, the Minster and her advisors have proposed a memorandum be attached to the new legislation that refers to Coco, her story, and the campaign that has brought about the legislation. The wording of the memorandum will clearly indicate that the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences bill is also to be known as Coco’s Law,” she said. 

Secondly, the Minister proposed funding for an educational medium through which young people can be informed about online bullying and harassment and I currently understand that to mean a type of educational foundation.
My campaign colleague sought commitment from the Minister around a meeting to tie down both proposals within the following two days. That commitment was given, and we have formally requested a meeting today via the Department of Justice.

Jackie Fox thanked the Minister and her team, as well as Labour’s Brendan Howlin for previous work on drafting the legislation, for their support.

Need help? Support is available:

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

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