Trauma ‘made life impossible’ for family

By Mary Dennehy

THE family of Jackie Griffin, a Tallaght woman who lost her life on the M50 in January, has highlighted the ‘damage’ caused following the sharing of images of the accident on social media.

Jackie died after sustaining injuries in a multiple-vehicle collision on the M50 near Finglas in January of this year.

Lynn Ruane compressor

Senator Lynn Ruane – ‘How can we create legislation to deal with recording someone’s death?’

Shortly after the collision, graphic pictures and video taken at the scene started to appear on social media.

Last week at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting on cyberbullying and online harassment, Independent Senator Lynn Ruane read out a statement on behalf of Jackie’s family.

The family statement read: “Just because her accident happened in a public place should not mean that she does not have a right to privacy and dignity.

“The damage that this caused our family has destroyed our faith in humanity.

“It goes beyond the initial trauma of just seeing the image, but has completely destroyed our emotional well-being.

“Everyday life is impossible.

“Everything from travel, work and even our own ability to have an online presence.”

Speaking during the discussion, Senator Ruane said: “[Jackie] was a family friend of mine and her brother is one of my closest pals.

“Because I know the distress and harm that was caused to the Griffin family, I asked for their consent before I raised Jackie’s case because I watched the absolute horror that family faced.

“How do we begin to move, in the legislation and in the development of policy, to also include and have a conversation about giving consent when somebody is no longer alive to give it.”

She added: “How can we begin to legislate for that?

“How can we create legislation to deal with the recording of someone’s death?

“Obviously the person in question is no longer there to take the case. 

“Can the case be taken on behalf of the family and due to the impact on the family?”

The purpose of the committee meeting was to conclude a series of engagements on the issue of online harassment and harmful communications, with representations also made in memory of Dara Quigley.

The Oireachtas discussion was varied and was joined by members of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, SpunOut.ie, The National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Dublin Mid-West TD Gino Kenny was also present for the discussion and speaking generally said that the “law must be updated”.

“The Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act dates from the 1990s and contains no reference to cyberbullying or digital or online harassment.

“I understand the law will be updated by the end of the current parliamentary term.

“I hope that happens to protect everyone who uses the internet.

“The internet is here to stay but while there are positives to it, there is also an underbelly that has extremely detrimental effects on our physical and mental health.”

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