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

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 6, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following: "Civil restraint orders

9. (1) A Court may, upon an application to it in that behalf, make an order, having regard to the evidence presented and if the court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justices to do, that a person (in this section referred to as the respondent) shall not, for such period as the court may specify—

(a) communicate by any means of communication with or about a named person, or

(b) that the respondent shall not approach, within such distance as the court shall specify, the place of residence or employment of a named person.

(2) If the court accepts that in the interests of the safety and welfare of the applicant and the applicant’s constitutional right to privacy and peaceful enjoyment of their dwelling requires that the address of the applicant be withheld from the court order against the accused, the court may so order that the address of the applicant shall be that of the District Court Clerk.

(3) An emergency civil restraint order may be made ex partewhere having regard to the circumstances of the particular case, the court considers it necessary or expedient to do so in the interests of justice.

(4) Where an application for an emergency civil restraint order is made ex parte, the application shall be grounded on an affidavit or information sworn by the applicant.

(5) If an emergency civil restraint order is made ex parte
(a) a note of evidence given by the applicant shall be prepared forthwith—
(i) by the judge,

(ii) by the applicant or the applicant’s solicitor and approved by the judge, or

(iii) as otherwise directed by the judge,

(b) a copy of the emergency civil restraint order, affidavit or information sworn under subsection (4)and note of evidence shall be served on the respondent as soon as practicable.
(6) A person who fails to comply with the terms of an order under subsection (1)is guilty of an offence and is liable—
(a) on summary conviction to a class A fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.”.

The new section proposed in this amendment would reinstate the section allowing applications for civil restraint in respect of perpetrators. This section was deleted in the Dáil and is crucial in the suite of measures needed to combat these kinds of crimes. I have also made a number of changes to the section originally contained in Deputy Howlin's Bill, including the opportunity for emergency ex parteorders when needed. I recognise that the Minister of State plans to introduce additional justice legislation on the issue in the new year, which is why the section was removed from the Bill. Therefore, I would appreciate some information on the status of that legislation. Have the heads been drafted? Has it gone to Cabinet? Is it largely identical to Deputy Howlin's section or is the Department making changes? Most crucially, will the Minister of State give a commitment on when he intends to introduce the Bill to the Oireachtas? As a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, I assure him that he will have our full support in the speedy progression of that Bill. I would appreciate as much detail on that Bill as he can provide today.


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