Sunday 18 March 2018

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: 'My Wiffee critics prove we need boundaries on what can be said online'

Fidelma Healy-Eames
Fidelma Healy-Eames
Senator Fidelma Healy Eames

David Kearns

A senator ridiculed for using "Wiffee" instead of WiFi during a debate on a bill to legislate against online harassment said her critics only proven “the need for boundaries online”.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames made the reference during a debate last week on a bill which would ban certain abusive comments online.

During the debate she said people had become too reliant on the internet, and complained that people going to restaurants would regularly ask for "the Wiffee code".

“What is sad is that my use of the word WiFi was completely ignored be those attempting to demean me online,” she told Today FM’s The Anton Savage Show.

Wifi, wifee, weefee, whatever . . Last Wed eve. I made a short input in the Seanad on the 'Harmful & Malicious...

Posted by Fidelma Healy Eames on Saturday, July 4, 2015

“There’s been a lot of selective editing going on to ridicule me. This and the focusing on what people considered a mispronunciation of WiFi proves the point of the bill we were discussing, that there needs to be boundaries for behaviour on social media.”

Writing on Facebook, Senator Healy Eames said she deliberately used the French pronunciation of the word because she was talking about tourists and that she had already used the English pronunciation earlier in the debate. 

“Is it not ironic that the point made in the Seanad in relation to the potentially damaging use of electronic communications/ social media has been proven by the plethora of keyboard warriors who have jumped on the bandwagon to belittle and to ridicule, while ignoring that I had referred to 'wifi' first,” she wrote.

Read More: 'I intentionally used the French pronunciation' - Fidelma Healy Eames on #wiffycode

Senator Healy Eames told Anton Savage that people had made “a Wiffee mountain out of mole hill”, and that some perspective was needed, giving what was happening in Greece and Tunisia.

 “The facts are, I very clearly used the word WiFi before I went on to say something I’d often hear in a restaurants, here and in the continent.

“The focus has been on the word Wiffee, as if I didn’t know the word WiFi. I used it in the international context, and, while I do accept it might have helped if I’d said ‘I’d been in France recently and so it was at the top of my mind’, we’re all Europeans and it’s not that strange.

“I do think the responses I got online over this were attempts to demean and ridicule me. My issue is with all of this, is that I’m a big girl, I can take it, but if imagine this furore was aimed at someone quite vulnerable.”

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