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After activist Gina Martin campaigned for 'upskirting' to become illegal in England this year, Ireland looks set to follow suit.

According to the Journal, revenge porn is to be outlawed under new amendments to legislation which are expected to be approved by Cabinet.

Upskirting takes place when a person takes a photograph under the clothes of another without consent being granted. The changes in the legislation will also provide for a separate offence to punish those involved in this image-based crime.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by G I N A M A R T I N (@ginamartinuk) on

When upskirting in the UK was officially criminalised this February, Gina Martin posted;

"18 months ago a man stuck his hand between my legs and took photos of my crotch without my consent. 18 months ago I decided I wasn't going to brush sexual assault off anymore. 18 months ago I discovered it wasn't sexual offence and decided I was going to try and change the law for all of us." 

Now, it's Ireland's turn. The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill, which provides for a six-month prison sentence when a person is convicted, was put forward back in 2017 and is based on a Law Reform Commission report.

The report recommends the outlawing of two kinds of incidents: one which forbids the posting online of explicit images without consent, the other which will prevent secretly filming or photographing people in a sexualised manner without consent, i.e. ‘upskirting’ and ‘down-blousing’.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will seek government approval today to draft amendments to the Bill.

'Revenge porn' laws in Ireland mark us out as regressive and archaic, and Labour leader Brendan Howlin agrees. 

Howlin has previously said one of the aspects of the digital age is the increase in occasions where private images taken while in an intimate relationship are posted online following a break-up.

“They use images gathered during that relationship to harm their former partner by posting intimate, lewd images that were meant for an intimate couple online. It is totally unacceptable,” he said. New Zealand, Australia and now the UK have laws ahead of ours.

The legislative move comes just a few months after gardaí were informed by more than two women that their explicit photographs have been posted online without their consent. 

The forum on Reddit which displayed nude and clothed images of Irish women, called 'Irish Sluts', shared without their consent was later shut down

Harassment offences will now include any form of communication, including digital and online comments about another person.

Social media and technology laws are in dire need of modernising, and existing regulation must be brought up to date regarding activities on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram messenger and Whatsapp.

Image credit: theconversation.com

The existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages will now expand to include all obscene messages using any form of digital communication.

The specific offence of stalking (in the 1997 Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act) will also be referred to under the new laws.

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel will start drafting the government amendments to the Bill in order for it to advance to Committee Stage in the Dáil soon.

We, for one, are absolutely delighted. It's been a long time coming.

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Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said that he will review the way in which sexual assault cases are handled. 

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Flanagan said that we would consider allowing alleged victims to have their own legal representation. 

Currently, complainants act as witnesses for the State’s prosecution and do not have their own legal team.

'I will commence consultations with women’s groups and the legal profession without delay,' he told The Irish Times.

'I want the Domestic Violence Bill enacted within weeks, and the Criminal Justice Sexual Offences Act and the Victims of Crime Act are being rolled out offering greater protection.'

'I will study what more can be done to protect women and girls.'

He is aiming to review the way such sensitive trial operate. 

The decision comes after days of country-wide protests in solidarity with survivors of rape and sexual assault. 

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Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan told the Dail today that he supports repealing the 8th amendment to the constitution. 

Ministers gathered today to hear details from the Oireachtas Committee report.

Mr Flanagan said that he supported the recommendations set out my the report.

'I support repeal, I don't believe this is an issue that should be in our constitution,' he said today.

'I want to acknowledge that this has been a very challenging issue, a very sensitive issue, over the past 35 years,' he continued.

'I believe it's important now in the context of the commitment given in the Programme for Partnership Government that we move on to the next stage.'

Fine Gael is to due to debate the abortion issue further next Monday.

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Minister for Equality, Charlie Flanagan has said he wants to see progress on the gender pay gap issue across all sectors of society and stated the problem is “much bigger than RTÉ.”

It's been estimated that men earn on average 14 per cent more than women in Ireland, a figure Mr Flanagan said was “too high”, adding: “I want that narrowed.”

He made the comments at the launch of a consultation process in which members of the public were invited to take part.

Employers, educational institutions, trade unions and members of the public will now have six weeks to make submissions on what can be done to tackle the situation.

The issues came under the spotlight after the BBC published a list of its highest earners, most of whom were men.

RTÉ then followed suit by revealing the pay details of its top 10 highest earners for 2015.

Only three women made the list – Miriam O'Callaghan, Marian Finucane and Claire Byrne.

Mr Flanagan said he eager to hear the public's opinion and invited RTÉ to participate in the process: "I invite RTÉ and all other stakeholders to participate in what can be an exciting endeavour as we move towards the equality agenda and narrowing the gap that I've said is far too broad."

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny has expressed his condolences to the families of those who were lost in the Manchester attack last night.

22 people were killed and a further 59 injured when a suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive at an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena. 

'The vile acts carried out in Manchester last night are a reminder of the depravity of the views held by the few,' he said.

'Those beliefs have no place in our society.'

'My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this atrocity. I am heartbroken for all.'

'The city of Manchester has exceptionally close ties with our country and I extend the solidarity of the Irish Government and all our people to those affected across the UK.'

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D, has also expressed his shock.

'I am shocked and horrified by the large loss of life in Manchester last night and my thoughts and prayers are with those affected, and we stand by our nearest neighbour, the U.K. especially due to the strong links between our country and the city of Manchester,' he said in a statement. 

'The Consular Section of my Department, in conjunction with our Embassy in London is monitoring the situation and we are not at this time aware of any Irish citizens affected.'

'Anyone with concerns for family and friends can contact the Consular Division of my Department on 353 1 408 2000.'

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