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'Coco's law' will help stamp out the menace of online bullying


Jackie Fox Fenlon, whose daughter Nicole Fox Fenlon, was a victim of bullying

Jackie Fox Fenlon, whose daughter Nicole Fox Fenlon, was a victim of bullying

Jackie Fox Fenlon, whose daughter Nicole Fox Fenlon, was a victim of bullying

Legislation banning online harassment is to be known as 'Coco's Law' in memory of a 21-year-old woman who took her life after being bullied on social media.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said it was not possible to legally change the title of the Bill to 'Coco's Law' in memory of Nicole Fox Fenlon - but the legislation her mother successfully campaigned for will always be known as such.

Ms Fox Fenlon, known as Coco to friends and family, died in January 2018.

Her mother Jackie Fox revealed afterwards that her daughter had been suffering from persistent online abuse since the age of 18.

The bullying had continued even after Ms Fox Fenlon had tried to take her own life in 2016.

Since her daughter's death, Ms Fox has been campaigning to criminalise persistent online abuse.

Her campaign led to the Labour Party drafting a Bill in 2017 to ban cyberbullying, stalking and sharing intimate images online without consent.

The Government has vowed to pass the Bill before the end of this month.

The Dáil justice committee heard calls to formally name the new legislation Coco's Law after Ms Fox Fenlon.

Labour TD Brendan Howlin said he wanted to change the Bill's name as it would mean a "huge amount" to her family.

"The very visible face of this campaign across the country for the last number of years has been Jackie Fox," he said.

"Her beautiful daughter, Nicole, was driven by vicious online bullies to the point of suicide, to taking her own life."

But Ms McEntee said she had been given legal advice that said the title of the Bill could not be changed.

"I do completely understand that this is something that people want to be connected with Nicole and her legacy.

"And I do believe that it will be known as Coco's Law - even if it's not in the title," she said.

"The reason for bringing this legislation and pushing it forward really will be very much linked to Nicole and her family, and it will be part of their legacy."


Ms McEntee said she and her officials would be able to refer to it as Coco's Law in future.

The new Bill would also ban the sharing of intimate images without consent, which is sometimes known as 'revenge porn'.

There have been calls to pass such a law urgently after it emerged that thousands of images of Irish women were put online without their consent.

Ms McEntee told the committee the law would also cover computer-altered fake images that depicted someone real in an intimate pose or engaged in sexual activity. So-called 'deep fakes' where women's faces are photoshopped on to naked bodies have been generated and distributed online.