Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan has said that he concerned at the slow pace of progress in terms of protecting children from cyber-bullying while using the internet.
Deputy Moynihan was commenting after raising the issue with the Minister for Justice in the Dáil this week.
“Progress has been woefully slow, and I just don’t accept the argument from Government that it’s a new phenomenon. The 2016 Law Reform Commission report outlined the gap in legislation as did an Oireachtas Committee report earlier this year.
“The Minister has informed me that work is ongoing with regard to a new piece of legislation base on a 2016 Law Reform Commission report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety, but I just don’t get a sense that there is any urgency on the part of government.
“The Minister informed me that irrespective of whether criminal behaviour takes place online or offline, it is still criminal behaviour. However, from speaking to Gardaí on the ground, they feel that the law as it stands does not give them the powers they need to prosecute.
“However, why has a Digital Safety Commissioner not been appointed yet? Leaving it up to the internet companies is not acceptable.
“The Government’s own Minister for Mental Health has voiced his frustration at the slow pace of progress. Cyber bullying is a significant cause of mental health issues among young people.
“Parents are rightly concerned about how their children are both engaging with the digital world and the impact such engagement can have on them.
“Cyber bullying is a crime, and it must be stamped out. This progress is very welcome, and one which demonstrates the importance the political system places on it. Since 2016, members of the Oireachtas from all parties and none have banded together to lobby on the need to put in place mechanisms to deal with cyber-bullying,” concluded Moynihan.