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Harassment and Stalking Legislation to go Before Dáil

Anyone who feels harassed by persistent contact could seek an order.

The new law would allow for a no-contact order to be issued by the courts.

Legislation which would allow people on the receiving end of stalking, harassment or abuse, including through social media, to seek a no-contact order from the courts will be tabled in the Dáil on Tuesday.

The Domestic Violence (No Contact Order) Bill 2019 will be moved by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger to amend last year’s Domestic Violence Act to further assist victims of harassment and abuse.

As it stands, the Domestic Violence Act 2018 is in effect. It consolidates the law on domestic violence and provides for additional protections for victims of domestic violence.

Within the 2018 draft of the bill, a new offence of coercive control of a spouse, civil partner or intimate partner also comes into force.

Coercive control is a pattern of intimidation, humiliation and controlling behaviour that causes fear of violence or serious distress that has a substantial impact on the victim's day-to-day activities.

Coppinger revealed that she was moving the Bill following contact from abuse survivor Jessica Bowes whose firsthand experience of abuse leaves her fearful for others. 

Jonathan McSherry (36), served 22 months of a 3½-year prison sentence for an attack on her in 2015, during which he broke nearly every bone in her face and kicked her a number of times.

Earlier this year she was awarded €150,000 in damages.

From 1 January 2019, people in an intimate relationship are eligible for safety orders.

Previously couples had to cohabit to be able to get a safety order, but the 2018 Act has removed this requirement. The following people can apply for a safety order:

  • Spouses and civil partners
  • Parents with a child in common
  • Partners in an intimate relationship (including cohabitants and dating partners)
  • Parents of an abusive child if that child is over 18
  • People residing with the respondent in a non-contractual relationship, such as two relatives living together

Under domestic violence legislation, the main kinds of protection available are safety orders and barring orders.

More information on safety and barring orders can be found here

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