What Are They Playing At?


90376790 90376792Top from left: Labour senators Lorraine Higgins, John Whelan and Ivana Bacik

The unelected/able.

In pursuit of the undetected.

The proposed  ‘Harmful and Malicious Electronic Communications Bill 2015’ is an act that aims to:

Protect against and mitigate harm caused to individuals by all or any digital communications and to provide such individuals with a means of redress for any such offending behaviours directed at them….

Senator Lorraine Higgins sez:

“I carried out a survey in schools in County Galway last year with Derek Nolan TD and 85% of students felt cyberbullying is a major issue, while 80% believed not enough is being done about it. Coupled with my own experience, I am now acutely aware there is a gap in our legislative armour and I am keen to address this. Modern democracies require modern laws and why should Ireland be any different in terms of international best practice?

It is wrong that commentary online would be held to a lesser or lower standard than the print or broadcast media. It is equally wrong that it is the victims of abuse and threats online who are penalised in that their mental health may be affected – but there are no penalties or deterrents for the instigators of the abuse.

It is incumbent on us as legislators to make online platforms a safe and decent place for the people who use them, but particularly for children and vulnerable individuals. We need legislation of this sort because it is important to convey that one cannot be abused with impunity anywhere.”

Sound Senatorial proposal from cogent legal minds?

Or technically-impossible control-freaking tommy rot?

YOU must decide.

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)

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46 thoughts on “What Are They Playing At?

  1. PaddyIrishMan

    Ivana Bacik is not unelected. The Trinity constituency is very large. The fact that you may not approve of university seats does not change that fact. IMHO the university senators have consistently been the strongest performers in the House.

    1. Jonotti

      Ivana Bacik has been a very weak performer over the last decade, she always toes the party line. David ‘Jail all Strikers’ Norris is a joke.

      1. Drogg

        Also being elected by a proportion of your alumni is not the same as being elected in a general election no matter how big you think trinity is.

    2. Atlas

      She’s totally unelectable outside the ‘dinner party socialists’ (i.e. non-BESS Trinity grads) demographic. This has been proven many times. She couldn’t even get elected during the last election’s ‘Gilmore for Taoiseach’ hysteria, despite running alongside the party leader in the best constituency for Labour in the country.

      Would you be making the same impassioned defence of the university panels in the Seanad if Rónán Mullen were the subject of this article? Somehow I doubt it.

  2. Jonotti

    Ah, Ivana, the chattering-classes favourite liberal. Except when it came to Clare Daly’s Foetal Abnormality Bill, then ol’ Ivana ran away as usual. She says a lot, and does very little to harm her career.

      1. Jonotti

        That you Ivana? Are you going to run again for a real democratic constituency? Are you going to fail again like you have at least twice before?

  3. scottser

    methinks the greatest beneficiaries of this legislation would be politicians and vested interests. we won’t be allowed to call them out as the lying b@stard chancers they really are.

  4. ahjayzis

    I really find Higgins absolutely unbearable.

    I think it’s five times now the electorate have rejected her – and she was parachuted in as a nominee to the Senate. Boils my piss to hear this absolute parasite refer to her ‘constituency’, of course meaning the one in Galway that didn’t elect her, and not the national constituency a Senator is supposed to ‘represent’, or saying things like ‘politicians such as me’ – there’s only eleven politicians such as her – Lowry deserves more respect than this political barnacle.

    I respect some of the nominated senators, like Zappone, they had a life and experience before dropping into politics, it’s actually a good use of the Taoiseach’s nominees, but this cretinous failure was just rewarded for not f*pping off when she was told to.

  5. Odis

    How would you like you internet legislation spun sir? There are two basic choices, protecting the kids or preventing terror.

  6. joj

    “It is wrong that commentary online would be held to a lesser or lower standard than the print or broadcast media.”

    But making online comments cannot be held to the same standard as print and brodcast media. They are two very different things. Online comments would be comparable to comments people make in person, in a public place. Would they advocate that people should only speak to each other in the pub, on the street as though they were a media company??

    Throwing out the old cyberbullying line as well to try distract the proposed huge campaign of repression of free speech.

    Second main point. Our laws apply only in Ireland, the internet is global, do you expect for example reddit to follow these laws? of course not. what happens then? sites that don’t comply are suddenly blocked.

    Think it doesnt/couldnt happen?

    1. Sham Bob

      Well it’s easier to go after the user than trying to change the moderation policies of major websites.

  7. Mr. T.

    Surprised Bacik is associating herself with this censorship bill.

    That Higgins effort needs to cop herself on. She has twice tried to get elected and failed on both occasions. Then she was appointed to the Seanad. Now that smacks of someone desperate for power for all the wrong reasons.

    If our AG is does their job, this Bill won’t see the light of day. It’s entirely designed to silence dissent online. Nothing to do with abuse or defamation.

  8. jeremy kyle

    So does this mean next time Armageddon3035 calls me a bollocks on YouTube I can take him to court?

        1. Odis

          I guess this is the last time I will be able to encourage you, to go hang yourself with electrified barbed wire.

  9. realPolithicks

    Looking at it from a distance, it appears that these kind of laws are used in Ireland to silence people. They dress them up as protections but really the purpose is to stifle dissent.

    1. paulyq


      My sense is politicians will use an example of a kid being bullied to pass some law that makes it easier to muzzle legitimate debate, chatter and bitching (good old bitching) online. The comparison of a comment on broadsheet or twitter with an RTE broadcast doesn’t hold up.

      My two cents. Elected representatives should be denied access to defamation law except in extreme cases, it rewards the very worst behaviour. (I’d bar billionaires too…) If something mean gets said online, and you have a pulpit to correct it, go correct it. No courts for you.

      In fairness, Ivana means well I’d say.

  10. Duh

    Harmful Electronic Communication
    3. – (1) A person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, intentionally or recklessly shares a harmful electronic communication shall be guilty of an offence.
    (2) For the purposes of this section an electronic communication shall be considered harmful where it –
    (a) incites or encourages another to commit suicide; or(b) incites or encourages another to cause serious harm to themselves; or(c) includes explicit content of the other;

    So if I have a reasonable excuse I can encourage someone to commit suicide ?? cool.

  11. Drogg

    Seriously senator Higgins needs to cop on, just because she is all sensitive by the fact that some people on the internet think she is a moron doesn’t mean you can start censoring the internet.

    1. Drogg

      Why did yis take out the part where I said it makes me sick to say that idiot is a senator. I think your average person would think she is below the intelligence level required to hold a position in the second house and has consistently gone out of her way to prove that. So essentially I was pointing out the obvious.

      1. Joe the Lion

        sorry must point out that there is no lower boundary limit. Sadly. It’s a bottomless pit in there.

  12. dhaughton99

    Thanks a bunch. Now the Indo have another 6 months of articles which contain the words “twitter trolls”.

  13. Frilly Keane

    I bin’ Backchecked

    Seriously tho lads
    From the side
    Who does she reminded ye of

    If he were t’slather himself in lipstick
    And lose a calf in weight

  14. Terry Crone

    How will Twitter’s ‘Tara Brown’, the police-supporting RNU leader, respond? With an article in Ireland’s greatest ever Sunday ‘paper’ tenuously blaming it all on Gerry?

    Who knows? This newspaper article on on-line behavior is interesting, though, so I’ll just set the link here for ye, as the vast majority of the media seem to have missed or ignored it:


  15. Frilly Keane

    Anyways Broadsheet
    To answer your question
    “What are they playing at?”

    I’m going with, elected politicians

  16. Justin Case

    I saw this debated on the Claire Byrne show some weeks back. It’s a highly problematic case, the woman has been subjected to horrific online abuse. However, instead of relying on the already substantial legal infrastructure in place to deal with, say, defamation or death threats – both of which she was subjected to – she decides to craft a new bill that plans to drastically limit freedom of communication, speech, and expression on the internet.

    The only really objectionable clause in the proposed legislation is that it is an offence to:

    “intentionally or recklessly causes alarm, distress or harm to the other.”

    The citizen has the right to be defended from many forms of behaviour but the right not to be alarmed is not one of them. I want to shock people over a number of issues. The test in this case is whether the individual was alarmed by what has been posted. Anyone can state that X or Y alarmed them. It’s not an empirical standard. That clause should be removed, if indeed this rather alarmist bill does get through. Trolls are weird and unfortunate but they should not be used as a means of limiting the positive benefits of an open internet.

    At the end of the day this is a legitimate issue being hijacked by someone intent on Helen Lovejoy-ing anonymity out of the internet in the same way as whistleblowers are being given no place to voice real and grave concerns in modern Ireland.


  17. Zarathustra

    It’s not about censorship or what constitutes free speech. For what it’s worth, I think many of the comments posted here are missing the point; cyber-bullying is very real, and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and any legislation that tackles this problem is a positive move, in my view.

  18. bobsyerauntie

    Quite clearly this is a quasi-fascist attempt to silence debate/criticism etc online..
    I hope the bill gets set on fire just like my Irish Water bill will- as soon as it arrives..
    Abhorrent bill from an equally abhorrent ‘politician’…

  19. Colm O'Leary

    If this was really about protecting children from bullying by their peers rather than the reality of protecting politicians from public critcisim they could surely reword it so that this proposed legislation only aplies when A MINOR is being bullied online. But it’s not, this is about crushing free speech by a government that has tried to controll the media in this country for it’s own ends from day one. Social media has been the chink in their media blackout curtain and this is just a thinly veiled attempt to remedy that.

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