Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced plans to make stalking a criminal offence in Ireland, during the Dáil discussion on violence against women.
In her speech, the Minister stated they will make changes to the existing law on harassment in Ireland to explicitly reference stalking. It will be made clear that stalking includes watching or following a person, even if they do not know they are being followed. Impersonating the victim and contacting a third person will also be made illegal. The law will also be updated to include all forms of communication.
The Minister also said consideration will be given to a provision which may allow victims to apply to the court to put in place a protection order, preventing the perpetrator from contacting the victim before the trial.
This news is welcomed - at present, on the rare occasion that stalking is prosecuted, it is prosecuted under harassment laws. While there is some overlap between stalking behaviour and harassment behaviours, stalking is significantly different and often, more distressing for the victim.
Stalking is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim. To learn more about stalking behaviour, visit our page on stalking in Ireland or take or 'Am I being stalked?' assessment.
Watch this space for more information on the new stalking offence in Ireland.