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20th Jan 2022

Minister Helen McEntee to bring in “clearer and stronger” laws around stalking

Katy Brennan

She also plans to launch a national campaign on consent.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said she plans to publish new legislation that will make stalking and non-fatal strangulation a criminal offence.

Although the act of stalking is already covered by existing law, McEntee is proposing changing the legislation to make it “clearer and stronger”, explicitly referencing stalking as a criminal offence.

Speaking on The Claire Byrne Show on Thursday, she said she is “committed” to implementing a new national strategy to improve the criminal justice system and to support victims of violence.

Addressing the Dáil on Wednesday, she vowed her department will do more to protect women from male violence.

She explained that the new legislation will make it clear that stalking includes watching or following a victim, even where the victim is not aware of it. It would also cover all forms of modern communication.

A bill will be published before Easter that will include new criminal offences for stalking.

“While choking and strangling are already illegal, creating a new, standalone offence should encourage victims to come forward and report what has happened to them,” she said.

“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.”

McEntee added that she had cried many times this week, not only in the wake of the tragic murder of Ashling Murphy, but for the so many other Irish women who have lost their lives.

She said: “That is why we stand in solidarity and anger, but also in quiet determination.

“That is why we must all work together to achieve a shared goal of zero tolerance of violence and abuse against women.

“I cannot stand here today and say ‘never again’. I cannot say that no woman will suffer at the hands of a man tonight. But let all of us hold on to the determination and solidarity of this week, and join together in a common cause.

“That we come together to demand zero tolerance of violence and abuse against women.”

The Minister added change will not come from legislation and government action alone – it is also about societal change and men and women standing up to say they will not tolerate violence.

Feature image – Leah Farrell/