Belfast Telegraph

Government approves new laws to outlaw revenge porn

Cabinet ministers signed off on amendments to the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017.

The Government has approved new laws to tackle revenge porn (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Government has approved new laws to tackle revenge porn (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Government has approved new laws to make revenge porn illegal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the draft legislation was a priority for Government but he could not give a guarantee as to when it would be enacted.

Cabinet ministers signed off on amendments to the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 at a special meeting in Cork on Wednesday .

The proposed legislation is designed to protect people from revenge porn, upskirting and online stalking.

It was first proposed as a private members’ Bill by Labour leader Brendan Howlin in 2016, based on a report by the Law Reform Commission.

Technology plays an increasing role in all of our lives and this legislation will address some of the heinous crimes that have emerged in recent times. Charlie Flanagan

Mr Howlin and Attorney General Seamus Woulfe have been working on changes to the Bill in recent weeks.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting in Cork, Mr Varadkar said: “I can’t give any guarantees on timelines on legislation.

“Unfortunately not having a majority in either the Dail or the Seanad, a lot of legislation is taking longer to get through than we would like or that would have been the case when we had the majority in both houses.”

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the office of the Attorney General would now be able to begin drafting the amendments to the Bill on a priority basis so it could be advanced through the Oireachtas as soon as possible.

Mr Flanagan said it was “essential” that the law keeps pace with social change.

“Technology plays an increasing role in all of our lives and this legislation will address some of the heinous crimes that have emerged in recent times,” he said.

He added that the Bill proposes to introduce new offences to deal with what he called the “appalling recent phenomenon” commonly known as revenge pornography as well as online harassment and stalking.

“These actions have a profoundly distressing and long-lasting impact on the victims and it is right that they be subject to criminal sanction,” he said.

PA

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