Seanad debates

Friday, 18 December 2020

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


10:00 am

Photo of Lynn RuaneLynn Ruane (Independent) | Oireachtas source

This conversation interests me. I understand the Senator's point about something that is done lawfully causing distress, but there are also situations where someone uses lawful measures as a tool to abuse. On Second Stage, I mentioned two people on whose radar I am. One of them has used the courts in a vexatious way to continue abusing me and has tried to summons me to court. He is lawfully sending me summonses but I have never met him. I have had to avoid taking leaflets from people on the streets because, since I do not even know what he looks like, I think he will jump out an hand me something. The Garda has tried to get me an image of him. He has been very threatening.

How does one make the distinction the Senator mentioned when something is lawful but also abusive? That is another conversation because the intent is not to use the law in the way it was intended but as a form of abuse. This happens in children's courts all the time in terms of guardianship. A parent will continue to take a woman to court and will be given guardianship with a nod of the head but will not pay maintenance, take the child or so on. The guardianship is a tool of control, in that the other parent would still have a say regardless of whether he or she wanted to co-parent. We need to examine how, in some situations, abusers can use the law as a tool to continue to control.


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