Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
I again find myself agreeing with my colleague. The irony is probably not lost on anyone that the Bill, which we will all call Coco's Law, is about harmful and harassing communications but the section on harassment has been removed. I am sure others will be able to attest to their own experiences, but this is disappointing personally.I spent two years being harassed daily, if not multiple times daily, by a lady who is a very large supporter of a political party and subsequently went on to be an elected representative of a political party. At breaking point after two years, I went to the Garda and attempted to take a case against her for that harassment under the very much outdated 23-year-old legislation. I did so because I was at breaking point and the harassment was having such a massive impact on my daily life, well-being, mental health and the peace that each of us should enjoy in our lives. The Garda investigated and spoke to the lady, who suggested that she would never do it again. Rather than not doing it again, she brought about a significant pile-on accusing me of actually harassing her by going to the Garda in the first place. That was four years ago. I dealt with it and got over it but there are thousands of people in Ireland today suffering harassment on various levels. The fact that we have an opportunity to do something now about it and that we are losing and missing that opportunity is a real shame and pity.
The section has been removed even though it was debated at length yesterday and last week. It will not be reinserted today. As such, what plans do the Department, the Minister of State, Deputy James Browne, who is present, and the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee, have to address the issue of harassment as very eloquently detailed in sections 16 and 17 of the Bill as originally initiated by Deputy Howlin?