Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
It is a real pity, given this legislation was drafted and first presented three years ago, that we are now updating a whole section on harassment, which is absolutely pertinent and should be done now, by changing a law that is 23 years old and that we all know does not actually do what it says on the tin. That is an enormous pity and is a huge missed opportunity, particularly given the Law Reform Commission and Deputy Brendan Howlin practically wrote the sections we so desperately need.
The section which, in the opinion of the Minister of State and the Department, replaces the need for this section 5, states at section 10(a): “in subsection (1), the substitution of “communicating with or about him or her” for “communicating with him or her”". Does that mean that if somebody was communicating about me persistently, it is not going to be considered harassment any more? It is the same with regard to section 10(b), which states: “in subsection (3), the substitution of “communicate by any means with or about the other person” for “communicate by any means with the other person”". Therefore, no longer is harassment going to be defined as somebody saying things about a him or a her, but a person will only be harassing somebody if the person is saying it to him or her. Is that what this section is implying?