Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
Senator Ward was correct in what he said regarding proportionality. I did not have the time to rewrite a section between the Bill being passed in the Dáil on Thursday and being taken in the House today. I will get that little dig in there. As Senator Seery Kearney said, I would look forward to amending the legislation through miscellaneous provisions to provide for lesser offences where we could decouple some of that language.Regarding what the Minister of State said concerning "seriously" and "causing offence" versus "seriously causing offence", that issue will come up again in respect of the harassment element; however, in my recent experience, it would be very hard to prove that receiving a postcard or someone sending me a bunch of flowers is causing me serious offence or harm, although it may be part of a larger continued pattern of behaviour. My point, therefore, concerns how we can begin to pick up those patterns of behaviour over time, and how difficult it is for a woman to be able to present this information in a way that shows such behaviour is serious, because it may not look serious on the surface when trying to explain it. For that reason, there are several provisions throughout the Bill where we must remove the onus and burden on the victims to try to prove what "serious" looks like.