Minister of State Michael Ring, TD, has this called for the introduction of legislation to tackle cyber bullying and online abuse following a number of high-profile suicides connected to the issue in recent weeks.
The issue of online abuse and cyber-bullying was once again brought to the fore following the death of the late Junior Minister, Shane McEntee and Minister Ring believes it is time legislation was introduced to regulate social media sites and not allow anonymous abuse to go continue.
“To be honest I have commented on the affects of social media before and I do believe that the country needs legislation to deal with it. With the kind of stuff which is being posted on the internet, it is not right that people can simply write it and walk away. We need to deal with it.
“I hope the Government looks at this not just because of what happened to Shane McEntee but because of the young children who have taken their own lives due to cyber bullying. This cannot go on but will only get worse if people think they can get away with it,” he told The Mayo News.
It now appears that the Government is to act on the problem after the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications said it would examine the role of social media in public debate and prioritise the matter in the coming weeks.
The Committee Chairman, Tom Hayes TD, said the committee would draw up a report on whether there was a need for regulation or legislation and present the report to Government for a decision.
Junior Minister, Shane McEntee took his own life just days before Christmas. It was later revealed that he was upset in the weeks leading up to his death because of abuse he received on social media websites following the December budget.
Speaking at his funeral, his brother Gerry hit out at what he called ‘the faceless people’ who sent anonymous texts to his brother and posted criticism about him on websites.
Minister Ring also criticised people who send anonymous messages online and while he said politicians ‘get it every day’, there was ‘fair and unfair criticism’ and politicians should not have to suffer abuse.
He also blamed a lot of the public ‘hostility’ on ‘certain elements of the national media’ who he said are ‘quick to make comments’ on politicians and their salaries but do not like comments to be made about their own ‘large salaries’. He commented that these people need to be tackled ‘head on’ and called on them to put their name forward for election if they can do a better job.
“This is a democracy and a free country. If these people think they can do a better job they should put their name on the ballot box … They are the classic hurlers on the ditch,” he said.
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