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Question

607. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the additional resources, training and reporting mechanisms she is putting in place to support the commencement of the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8337/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): 'Coco's Law', which has been enacted as the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020, made its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas and was signed into law by the President just before the end of last year. On the 9 February, Safer Internet Day, I signed the commencement order for the Act and the legislation entered into force on 10 February 2021.
In advance of signing the commencement order, letters issued from my Department to An Garda Síochána, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and to the Courts Service to inform them of the date on which Coco's Law would enter into force.
The Deputy will be aware that the Gardaí, the Office of the DPP and the Courts are responsible for the management and administration of their respective budgets and resources, including in relation to training and that I as Minister have no direct role in these matters. Any costs associated with the implementation of Coco's Law for the various criminal justice agencies will be looked at in the context of their 2021 budgetary allocations, all of which were increased by government under Budget 2021.
In relation to initiatives concerning Coco's law, it may interest the Deputy to know that when signing the commencement order, I announced that an agreement had been reached between my Department, the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU and the Department of Education, to establish a ‘Research Observatory on Cyberbullying’ focused on providing up-to-date research, advice and resources related to cyberbullying, cyberhate, and online harassment, and the implementation of Coco’s Law. Funding for the Observatory is being provided by the Department of Justice in memory of Nicole (Coco) Fox.
I also announced funding for Webwise to update their popular ‘Lockers’ programme, which is an important Junior Cycle resource, to include information about Coco’s law on the topic of non-consensual sharing of intimate images. As well as being an educational programme for students, Webwise also includes information for school leaders on the legal framework, implications for school policy and considerations for dealing with incidents. Webwise will also be working to update their ‘Be in Ctrl’ and ‘Connected’ programmes to ensure they reflect the new legislative landscape.
It is also my intention to develop an awareness campaign to draw attention to both the commencement of Coco’s law and the penalties applicable if convicted of the sharing intimate images without consent and to draw attention to the harm caused to the victim whose intimate image is shared.