Seanad debates

Friday, 18 December 2020

Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages


10:00 am

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I agree with Senator Ward. Whether someone intends to cause hurt, mild or egregious, to someone else is irrelevant, because it is not necessarily the intent but the outcome that matters. If a person is hurt, then he or she is hurt. I like the idea, therefore, of being able to be in the position of someone else judging whether a person's act is reasonable or not. On too many occasions, which we see this frequently in the world of politics, we get apologies after the fact from someone stating that he or she did not intend to cause any hurt, and that should make it okay. It does not make it okay.

I refer to the Senator and others who have suffered harassment. The stuff being said or done, in itself, might not necessarily be untrue or overly hurtful in isolation; but when it is persistent, either daily or on multiple occasions daily, over months and years, then such behaviour absolutely becomes egregious and harmful. It does not matter whether the person responsible can stand up at the end of the day and say that he or she is sorry and did not realise that he or she was causing hurt. That is irrelevant. The hurt and the outcome is the issue, regardless of the intent and whether someone meant it. It is the outcome that is important, and I again encourage the Minister of State to bring this back at the earliest possible intervention.


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