Fianna Fáil TD and Spokesperson for Justice, Jim O’Callaghan has said that today’s Report published by the Law Reform Commission underscores the need to do more to tackle the emergence of online hate campaigns and online bullying.

The significant growth of cyber-bullying over recent years has created a readily accessible forum for bullies to target individuals with little or no sanction or regulation.

Speaking following today’s publication, Deputy O’Callaghan said, “Cyber-bullying can have devastating consequences and tackling it will require more education, more support and more resources for school staff, parents and students.

“There is a balance to be struck in how we deal with digital harassment. Awareness campaigns on digital safety and good practice and better education are essential components but I believe strong sanctions are also required to act as a deterrent.

“Fianna Fáil previously proposed a major shift in the law to protect people, particularly children, from cyber-bullying and which made it a criminal offence to engage in it, assist it or encourage it.

“Had it been successfully supported by Government then, the offence of cyber-bullying would now be defined in Irish law to help protect people from online hate campaigns,” added Deputy O’Callaghan.

“Online bullying, hate campaigns and harassment are a major issue, most principally for our younger generations and we need a strong basis in law to help tackle it.

“The government must ensure that the full recommendations detailed in today’s report are implemented without haste. As the digital and technological revolution continues, we must be prepared to respond to legally protect civil liberties.

“Online bullying has only had consequences for the victims but now is the time to make sure there are legal consequences for the perpetrators too.”