We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee.
Victim protection

Legislative changes to allow civil orders restraining stalking to be made on an urgent basis

McEntee said that these changes will reassure victims victims “of these awful crimes that they will be listened to, that they will be treated with respect and dignity, and that they will be protected.”

GOVERNMENT APPROVED changes to the Criminal Justice Bill will allow civil orders restraining stalking to be made on an urgent basis. 

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has pushed for a range of changes to be made to the bill aimed at providing better supports and protections for victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. 

Under the amendments, the identities of harassments and stalking victims will be protected in certain court proceedings, and will prevent these victims from being cross-examined by the accused. 

Stalking and non-fatal strangulation will be made standalone offences. 

McEntee said that she is aiming for the legislative changes to be enacted in July. 

The Minister launched Zero Tolerance, the national Strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence last June – this legislation is part of the plans that were outlined then on reforming criminal law in this area. 

“These amendments will address several outstanding issues and, importantly, will reassure 

“The new orders also go further than what is possible under domestic violence legislation in terms of who an order can be made against (that is, not just close relationships) and the kind of conduct that can be prohibited by the court.

“The aim of the strategy is to bring about changes in attitudes and in systems to ensure there is zero tolerance in Irish society for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, and I believe this legislation is a significant step,” McEntee said. 

The bill will also allow life sentences for conspiracy to murder, and increase the maximum sentence for assault causing harm from five to ten years. 

Usually, the making of civil orders retraining stalking are made by the affected person on notice to the other person. 

Under these changes, the making of short-term orders will be permitted without such notice where there is an immediate risk to the safety and wellbeing of the person affected. 

Changes to the reporting restrictions in cases of harassment and stalking will mean that the identities of both the alleged victim and the defendant will be protected in certain cases where there has been a serious invasion of the victim’s life. 

Cross-examination of victims by the accused can already be disallowed in cases relating to sexual offences, in order to prevent re-traumatisaton.  

These offences currently include those involving violence or the threat of violence, domestic violence offences (including coercive control) and certain other offences.

Under the new bill this list will be expanded to include stalking and harassment offences and breaches of the new civil order system.

“This will allow for strengthened protections to safeguard victims from repeat victimisation, intimidation or retaliation for offences which by their nature, are likely to be traumatic for victims,” a spokesperson from the Department of Justice said. 

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel