Words: Eva O’Beirne
Stalking is to become a standalone criminal offence under Irish law, carrying a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
Yesterday, Helen McEntee brought a memo to Cabinet on new legislation which will make stalking and non-fatal strangulation standalone offences. Stalking itself is already covered by existing law but the Minister for Justice wishes to make changes to make the law “clearer and stronger.”
The changes will include the explicit reference to stalking as a criminal offence, and it will update the law to make sure it includes all forms of modern communications. The law will make it clear that stalking includes watching or following a victim, even where they are not aware of being watched or followed.
The memo will also consider introducing a provision to allow a victim to apply to the court for an order to prevent the alleged perpetrator from communicating with them in advance of a trial. It will also make it clear that impersonating the victim, and then communicating with a third party, is illegal.
Commenting in January on the legislation, Minister McEntee said: “While choking and strangling are already illegal, creating a new, stand-alone offence should encourage victims to come forward and report what has happened to them.”
“It has been shown that this crime can be an indication of future, lethal violence, and is a risk factor for homicides against women in the home,” she added.
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