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

On how one defines what "seriously" means, I understand having to qualify particular things in terms of meeting a certain requirement for a certain offence. I do not necessarily think that removing the word "seriously" makes the offence a lesser offence. I am saying the word "seriously" is so arbitrary that not many people understand within the justice system what serious is. My problem is not that it lessens the offence whatsoever. It is that there is a real problem understanding and interpreting what types of abuse are serious and what are not, and it is too arbitrary. On making sure somebody is not in court for a lesser offence because we change wording, there has to be some other way to pick up on all those other types of abuse that some people within the justice system, whether it be within their interpretation of the law or within the judgments, believe are not serious and do not meet a particular requirement when in most cases for many women who try to use the harassment law it is very serious but for some reason it does not meet the Director of Public Prosecution's, DPP's, definition of "seriously". There is some disconnect between what people experience and the qualifiers that are set out for people to be able to take successful cases in the courts.


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