Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
Section 9 amends the Schedule to the Bail Act to list the offences under this Bill as being serious offences for the purposes of section 2. Sometimes there is a political rush to suggest that people should not get bail. I am aware of Private Members' Bills that have come before the Houses providing that on the third strike people should not be allowed to get bail, which to my view is patently unconstitutional. As Members will know, section 2 of the Bill provides that bail can be refused solely on the basis that there is an apprehensible risk that the person will commit another offence while on bail. It was approved by the people in a referendum in 1996. There is a coterie of allegations relating to certain offences to which that specifically applies in a very important way. The kinds of harassment, bullying and abuse offences contained in the Bill are in that ballpark.
It is very important that the persons who are victims or alleged victims of the offences described earlier in the Bill would be able to avail of the option to bring evidence before the court to suggest that the person is likely to commit an offence. In order to do that or to rely on that, it is necessary to make the offences in this Bill scheduled offences under section 2 of the Bail Act. This section introduces a very important provision in the protection of persons who are the victims of these offences.