Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
This is the first time I have contributed to this discussion today. I was not in the Chamber until now. What is happening here is very welcome but the discussion of the issues involved is very important. I agree with Senator Seery Kearney and other Senators regarding tightening up the area relating to harassment. It is well known that I went through this experience. I am thankful to the journalists who highlighted it. In the context of an issue that, unfortunately, arose with regard to eviction, people were clearly told on social media how to burn my car with acid and to shout at my wife and kids. That is fine with me to a degree, although it should not be. It is about how it affects the people around one. It is about one's children, wife, partner, mother, brothers or sisters, who all worry about this. I have campaigned quite strongly on this issue and I am very glad to see things happening now.
Public representatives across the line are hard workers generally. The try to take people's problems on board and improve things. We need to set standards. Harassment is totally unacceptable behaviour no matter who perpetrates it. Members may be aware of certain events when the Leader, Senator Doherty, was a Minister. We must ensure that the legislation relating to harassment is tightened up. I do welcome what is happening here and the commitment of the Minister of State to it. I am not trying to make this about me but it is very difficult for one's family to be affected and one's relatively young kids to have to text at 12 o'clock at night to ask if one is okay, whether one is at home or where one is. Many of my colleagues have had that experience; not just me.