Video: Father of tragic teen calls for new laws against bullying

Katherine Donnelly

The father of teen suicide victim Ciara Pugsley told TDs and senators of the impact of his tragic loss as an anti-bullying expert said the fight against bullying should be backed up by law.

Jonathan Pugsley was part of a delegation from the Anti-Bullying Coalition that gave a presentation in Leinster House to raise awareness of the issue.

Speaking afterwards, Professor Mona O'Moore called for legislation similar to the Massachusetts Law introduced in the US following the suicide of Irish teenager Phoebe Prince in 2010.

Prof O'Moore said that the time had come to consider something similar to what is also known as Phoebe's Law, a key feature of which is a mandatory requirement on school authorities to report cases of bullying.

"The time is right to consider and discuss developing legislation, looking at the model of the Massachusetts Law, to cope with bullying and cyber-bullying," she said, adding that there should be a zero-tolerance approach to bullying

Anti-Bullying Coalition president Monica Monahan claimed there had been up to six more suicides in the year-and-a-half since her organisation was set up. A national strategy was needed to change public behaviour and attitudes.

"We need a cultural shift in terms of attitudes to bullying and aggression," she said.

Jonathan Pugsley's daughter Ciara (15), from Dromahair, Co Leitrim, took her own life in September after she was targeted by cyber bullies.

He said he was in Leinster House to show that "bullying is real, that bullying does hurt". He added that "unfortunately, we had the worst-case scenario happen to us".

Mr Pugsley spoke about the "grief it causes not only to the family, but to the community as a whole", adding that we were "badly equipped as a community to deal with bullying problems".

"We have nothing in place to educate people and to prevent this, to look for the signs. So I am sure it is going to happen again," Mr Pugsley said.


"Unfortunately, someone will be left with what we are left with now – photographs and memories, which is a very, very sad thing."

He said it was important that "we come out of the denial stage and start to educate ourselves".

Mr Pugsley also spoke about the tragic loss of 13-year-old Erin Gallagher in Co Donegal, whose recent suicide has also been linked to cyber-bullying, saying that he felt sorry for all the people involved.