independent

Thursday 31 July 2014

Ciara's family call for web legislation

EMMA GALLAGHER

Published 06/11/2012|17:57

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THE PICTURES show a smiling, happy teenager, a girl who enjoyed the outdoors, sports, and her beloved pony, Basil.

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But behind the smile there was so much pain, from a tormentor with no name.

Last September, 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley, from Dromahair, died by suicide as a result of cyber bullying.

Six weeks on, her family are trying to come to terms with her death.

Her dad, Jonathan, an engineer said: "We moved to Leitrim in 1999 from the UK.

"Ciara's mum, Aggie and I both have a great love of the outdoors and this passed on to Ciara."

Aggie is a horse riding instructor and Jonathan recalled that from a young age his daughter was besotted.

He said: "Even when she wasn't big enough to sit on one, she wanted to horse ride.

"When she was ten, she got her first pony, Basil, whom she adored.

"She loved bringing her pony to the beaches along Grange and Mullaghmore, where she would spend most summers riding across sand dunes and swimming in the water with him."

Poignantly, it was Basil who led the cortege at her funeral. Ciara also excelled in sports. Her older brother Daniel (18), a Leaving Cert student, says that his sister was a big sports star.

"Ciara played football with the Dromahair GAA team, both at U14 and U16, and also for Leitrim U14s. "This year she was on the Minor team too. "Ciara also loved karate and represented the Green Dragon club from Sligo.

"She competed internationally in Italy back in 2006.

"John and Michael Sweeney from the club presented us with a belt at her funeral," Daniel said.

Prior to her death, Jonathan, who lives in Carrick on Shannon, said that he wasn't aware of Ciara being a victim of cyber bullying.

He explained: "Ciara seemed to like school – I never heard her complain about it. "She spent many weekends with me. "I can remember her sitting at the kitchen table, busily doing her homework.

"She passed her Junior Cert in September and did well.

"Friends of Ciara's said that she livened the atmosphere up wherever she went, which was lovely to hear.

"They mentioned that it was always Ciara who was the first to talk to anyone, she wasn't nervous around people and never sat at the back of a room. "She was mature for her age." It's been six weeks since the fun-loving, teenage girl ended her life; the pain for the family is still very raw.

Following Ciara's death and hearing about the prevalence of cyber bullying, Jonathan is adamant that such websites should be legislated against.

"It is important that these sites are not just taken down, but legislated against.

"They are set up for financial gain and we need laws in place to stop them.

"If I had known what was going on, I would have stopped it immediately.

"Some of the comments were ridiculous," he stressed.

"As a young girl seeing comments about you, you will wonder who made that comment.

"Everyone could see the comments about Ciara.

"Comments can affect girls a lot more, they take it to heart."

Jonathan said that schools and parents have roles to play in tackling the issue.

Last week in Ballybofey, 13 year old Erin Gallagher died by suicide, amid claims of online bullying.

Jonathan said: "It's very tragic to hear about this news, and going through it yourself, you wouldn't wish it on anyone else.

"When you are that young, you are trying to find your place in society and it can be very, very tough."

Jonathan appeared on national television and in the media to highlight his daughter's death.

He explained: "It gave strength to me, it made Ciara's death mean something, which is a very sad thing to say. "It's been devastating for the family. "Daniel visited Ciara's grave on Monday with his mum. "It's very upsetting for everyone. "Friday afternoons are tough, as I usually would be awaiting a call from Ciara to come pick her up. "We're not going to be doing that anymore. "We had 15 great years with Ciara, but if we had known what was going on, we could have done something."

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