Seanad debates

Friday, 18 December 2020

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

 

10:00 am

Barry Ward (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

On subsection 5(2), the Minister of State has mentioned in his reply on amendment No. 18 the fact that the judge in proceedings is obliged to take into account the view of the alleged victim of the offence before making a direction under subsection (2). I have mentioned that I find it confusing that a victim is, on the face of it in the Bill, precluded from going public with his or her situation and what he or she may have suffered. Specifically in relation to section 5(2), the fact the judge is obliged to take into account or make the order having taken into account the views of the alleged victim of the offence creates two difficulties, both involving the victim not giving his or her view. If, for example, a judge asks for the views of the alleged victim and that person declines to give a view, is not present or for whatever reason does not give a view, the judge cannot take into account the views of the victim. Does that preclude the judge from making a direction under this section?More importantly and germanely, given that this is Coco's Law, in circumstances where the victim is deceased there is clearly no provision for the victim to give his or her view on a direction being made or there being any privacy or restrictions on reporting. If the victim is deceased and the view cannot be given, is the judge precluded from making a direction under this section or have I misread it? Does the Minister of State have a view on it?

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