Dáil debates

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages


3:10 pm

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent) | Oireachtas source

Of course, I support this Bill 100%. Anybody with any decent line of respect would. It is unfortunate that it has taken this many years to bring a Bill of this importance before us for approval. We should make sure that no other delay should be put in the way of enacting the Bill.

The showing of such images on the Internet, mainly of women, is outrageous and unacceptable. If it is an adult putting these things up - a male adult putting pictures of a female up like that - a custodial sentence should be considered in this country. We have to stop going easy on people who try to wreck other people's lives. If it is a younger person, we need to look at the education system and how we educate young boys or young children as they grow up to respect and use social media and not use it as a loaded weapon to hurt others. That has been happening for many years in this country, and probably in other countries. We cannot go light-footed in this country anymore in a situation like this.

It hurts people to the bone. I met with women who have been affected by this and their lives destroyed. Most of these people to whom it has happened must realise that today's news could be tomorrow's fish and chips paper wrapping and try and move on from these shocking events that have been inflicted on them.

We, as a State, have neglected them. We need to be strong enough to apologise to such people who have been violated. As I said, the sentences that will follow in the justice system must be appropriate to the actions of those who think they can find an easy way to hurt others in such a horrible, horrific and nasty way. If there is a strong message sent with strong sentencing when these people face the courts, it will send shock waves throughout the country and show that we are leading the way in protecting people, in this situation, mainly women, who need to be protected.

I am delighted to get this opportunity to speak on this. As I said, we need to focus strongly on our education system. Our young people are growing up. At ever younger ages they are using the Internet and social media. The adults have let their own children and young people down with the carry-on that we have witnessed and heard over recent weeks. It is probably going on for quite a period of time. The shock, the horror and the hurt it has caused are unnatural.

I have sincere sympathy for any woman who has been caught up in this travesty of justice. The Rural Independent Group will leave no stone unturned in the protection of these women and their rights. We will make sure that we support in the Dáil every protection that can be given to these people. We will show to rest of this country that this island will not tolerate this kind of nonsense.


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