Thursday, 17 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages
I welcome the fact the Minister of State has agreed to accept amendment No. 5. It is very welcome. On the point of consent, I do not think Deputy Murnane O'Connor's amendments work. What we do need are wider public education campaigns on consent. It is vital that older generations as well as young people understand what consent means. It should include mandatory consent, anti-harassment training and policies and complaints procedures in work places and organisations.
The trade unions should have a crucial role to play in that.
The question of objective sex education will come back on the agenda. It is essential that we have objective sex education in our schools. I understand that a new curriculum will be brought forward. In many respects that new curriculum may be relatively progressive, certainly compared with what is taught in the schools today, but if the Government does not - and it seems it will not - take on board the point in our Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill 2018, which came from the report of the former Joint Committee on Education and Skills on sex education, and remove the barrier of religious ethos from the Education Act, all of that can come to nothing because schools can decide not to deliver this curriculum, no matter how good it is, because it conflicts with their religious ethos. That is a fundamental problem we will have to return to in the new year.