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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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The healthcare crisis is escalating as the nurses and midwives remain on strike for another day this week.

The impact on tens of thousands of patients is causing chaos, as members of the public are asked not to use out of hours GP services as hundreds of doctors gather for a protest in Dublin.

News has since emerged that a rally will take place this Saturday, allowing members of the public to support the nurses and Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Over 35,000 nurses and midwives voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action late last year, with their first 24-hour stoppage taking place on January 30 and second strike occurring yesterday.

The Facebook post reads; "Join the nurses' protest, called by the INMO, this Sat 12.30pm Parnell Square Dublin. Leo Varadkar and the Fine Gael led government are refusing to negotiate with the nurses."

It continues, "They are ignoring the huge public support for their legitimate claims. Most of us know that nurses deserve equality of treatment with other professional grades, better pay will help ease the recruitment crisis and that means better patient care in our hospitals."

"Nurses do not want to strike – they would prefer to care for their patients. We can help by turning our sympathy into a major display of solidarity." it concludes, calling on the public to text their numbers to join the rally at the Garden of Remembrance.

Further strike action is expected to take place on February 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, and 21, which is sure to affect a huge amount of patients.

Patients are being asked by the National Association of GP Co-ops to travel to emergency departments, or to wait to see their own GP if any ailment is experienced.

Other disruptions include the cancellation of outpatient appointments, non-urgent surgery, and respite, rehabilitation, and day centre services. An estimated 50,000 patients in the past week were affected.

Another strike is expected tomorrow, with up to 75,000 people likely to be affected. 

As of last night, there appears to be little hope of resolving the pay dispute, with the INMO accusing the Government of “recycling” ideas and calling on them to “come to the table unconditionally”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted that direct contact should have been made with nursing unions regarding further talks at the Workplace Relations Commission to resolve their dispute, instead of through a press release.

He responded to critique from  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who claimed the statement was an "appalling and a pathetic way" to approach the dispute.

Yesterday, the Fine Gael Government issued a statement saying it was willing to engage in talks on issues other than pay to try to overcome the nurses' strike.

General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Phil Ni Sheaghdha said the Government had not communicated directly with the unions.

Adult mental health services are also coming under huge strain today and tomorrow due to a ban on overtime, including night rosters, as members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) engage in industrial action. 

Doctors will join the disagreement by heading to the Dáil to protest at conditions and pay cuts, which was organised by the National Association of General Practitioners.

Other aspects of the healthcare crisis involve a lack of beds, and the disastrous cost of the new National Paediatric Hospital, which sum now stands at €1.7 billion.

Feature image: Extra.ie

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Women for Election CEO Ciairín de Buis has called on women to run in elections this coming May, and for parties to encourage female candidates.

There have been more Seáns and Johns than elected to Dáil Éireann that women overall, according to  data analysis of all elected TDs since 1918

Yesterday saw a crowded audience gather in the Royal College of Physicians on Kildare Street to hear a panel discussion organised by Women for Election, titled; “Will 2019 be Ireland's Year of #MoreWomen?” 

The panel was chaired by journalist Alison O'Connor, and included Lisa Chambers TD (Fianna Fáil), TD (Green Party), Senator Alice-Mary Higgins (Independent), Cllr Madeleine Johansson (People Before Profit) and Kate O'Connell TD (Fine Gael).

The event asked politicians about the chance of more women running and winning elections this year, and how parties are taking action to help improve gender balances in the political sphere.

In our last local elections in 2014, only 21 percent of electives were female councillors, compared to 16 percent in 2009.

There has undoubtedly been a swell in political activism in Ireland over the last few years, especially due to the Repeal movement, and the panel were discussing whether this energy would make it to the polls and ballots.

Women for Election CEO Ciairín de Buis commented; “2019 has at least two elections, possibly more. Last year we held a series of training events in Dublin, Cork and Galway covering communication strategies, campaigning and canvassing."

He continued; I’ve met dozens of women who are running in the locals and Europeans this year. We’ve also worked with women and their campaign team who are preparing for the next General Election, whenever that may be.”  

22 percent of TDs are women currently, a historic high, but still too low.

De Buis continued; “The appetite for more women to enter politics is there and I, and Women for Election, want to help any woman thinking about running to have the courage and confidence to put her name on the ballot, either with a party nomination or as an independent.”  

Green Party leader and TD Eamon Ryan mentions the praise-worthy work of former Green Party TD and former Minister of State Mary White’s role in the establishment of gender quotas for party candidate lists. 

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell refers to the centennial celebration of certain women securing the right to vote, noting that this has added to the conversation around women's role in politics in Ireland.

“The celebration of 100 years since some women first achieved the right to vote has focused the mind on our incomplete democracy,” says Deputy O’Connell. 

“Whilst mindful of the progress we have made in terms of female representation it is still shocking that 78% of those in Dáil Éireann are men.

"Leaders must now act by example. The time for acceptance of anything less than an equal male to female ratio is nigh on over." she concluded.

Non-for-profit Women for Election will be hosting training throughout 2019 for women, as well as hopefully organising an online course.

Feature image: www.womenforelection.ie 

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A survey carried out by Newstalk has released results stating that half of Irish people would not report rape to the Gardaí if they knew it happened to someone else.

Newstalk’s Women in Ireland Survey shows that while eight out of ten people would report a rape if it was committed against them, when it came to somebody else the reports shifted entirely.

Red C conducted the survey for Newstalk in order to examine sexual violence in the country, and it found that women were significantly less likely to report an incident of rape of someone other than themselves. 

Only four out of ten women said they would report an incident, and six out of ten men, meaning that women are more likely to remain quiet about sexual violence occurring to a friend, acquaintance, family member, or even a stranger.

The survey also found that twice as many women as men have experienced gender discrimination, and three quarters of people would report sexual harassment at work.

The Women in Ireland survey enquired about if participants would report other sexual assault incidences such as groping, indecent exposure, sexual harassment at work or non-consensual touching.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dublin Rape Crisis (@dublinrapecrisis) on

Apparently, three quarters of people would report indecent exposure or sexual harassment while at work, and two thirds of people would give a statement regarding groping to An Garda Síochána.

Regarding discrimination, twice as many women as men said they have experienced prejudicial treatment with younger people.

Interestingly, people who are living in Dublin are evidently more likely to have experienced gender discrimination in their lives.

Overall, the report shows troubling responses from our country, which has had two major rape trial controversies in the last year alone which have shed light on the worrying ways in which our justice system treats sexual assault victims.

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Emotional tributes and forms of creative protest have been occurring worldwide for the 17-year-old woman involved in this week's Cork rape trial, which saw a female barrister use the young woman's underwear as evidence against her.

According to the barrister, the woman's lace thong proved that she was 'open to meeting someone and being with someone', leading to the organisation of mass rallies in support of the victim.

The 27-year-old man accused of raping her in an alleyway was acquitted of rape following barrister's Elizabeth O'Connell's finishing statements.

Among the tributes to the young woman is a hauntingly beautiful rendition of a song, penned by a young woman of similar age to the girl involved:

The video, which was shared on Twitter by her brother John Gaughan, has been steadily gaining in views since it was uploaded.

The lyrics echo the sentiments of outraged women all over the country, who are refusing to accept that underwear can play a part in consent and can also be used as evidence in a court of law.

"What are you wearing underneath? Isn't for you to see unless I want that to be, is that clear?"

"No please, can you stop? That should be enough for you to f*cking wise up, is that clear?"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Peppermint (@i_am_peppermint) on

"Consent is what we're told, at 17-years-old, is what we wear underneath our clothes. Victims become accused of the crime they didn't do, responsibility is abused."

"We shouldn't have to fear for this to happen to us or someone that we love, is that clear?"

"Something has to change with the mindset of today, it's still not clear."

Anger has spread around Ireland as well as in other countries around the world as a result of the latest controversial rape trial.

ROSA and Ruth Coppinger TD have both requested that strikes occur as a form of protest against the handling of sexual violence cases as well as consent and Irish sex education on International Women's Day.

A review of the handling of sexual assault cases in Northern Ireland been released today, stating that members of the public be excluded from such trials following the high profile Belfast case.

The report, written by retired judge John Gillen and states that access to trials involving serious sexual offences should be confined to close family members of the complainant, the defendant as well the media. 

In the Republic of Ireland system, rape trials are already closed to the public. 

It remains to be seen if any positive consequences will occur as a result of the protests, we hope improvements can be made for the sake of sexual assault and rape victims in Ireland.

Feature image: ABC News

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The Bernard Shaw is a well-known site for political activism: murals dedicated to Savita Halappanavar, the Repeal Movement and the homelessness crisis have appeared in recent times alone.

This week saw a spark of anger which turned into a flame following a controversial Cork rape trial in which a female barrister named Elizabeth O'Connell used a 17-year-old woman's underwear as evidence against her.

As a result, #thisisnotconsent protests took place all over the country, with women and men marching with 'I Believe Her' banners in the air.

The Bernard Shaw's latest activist art piece is dedicated to the young woman whose 27-year-old alleged attacker was acquitted of rape following Elizabeth O'Connell's finishing statement.

The barrister urged the jury of eight men and four women to consider the woman's underwear, which happened to be a lace thong, claiming that the woman "was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone".

The Richmond Street South mural shows painted images of various shapes and sizes of underwear, with each branded with the words 'Not Asking For It.' The work was created by Emma Blake, a street artist and graphic designer, also known as Estr.

The mural's appearance is in support of the solidarity rallies which took place this week, urging the government to change the way in which rape trials are conducted.

Women's rights group ROSA wrote that the judicial consideration of the girl's underwear  as evidence was a "disgrace".

ROSA also stated: "These lines of character accusation and victim blaming are unfortunately a common tactic used in cases before the courts relating to sexual violence."

"The judiciary has proven itself time and time again to be utterly damaging to survivors of sexual violence to seek justice."

 Let's hope these crucial protests lead to the necessary changes to Irish law regarding sexual violence.

Feature image: Channel NewsAsia

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As May creeps ever closer, the Dáil have added the 8th Amendment to their to-be-discussed list.

Today, the government will discuss the recommendations of the all-party Oireachtas report on the 8th.

Discussions will continue into tomorrow.

It is the committee's recommendation that unrestricted access to terminations should be allowed in pregnancies up to 12 weeks.

The Government have agreed to draft a Bill that would allow a referendum on the Eighth Amendment to take place.

The wording of that bill has not been finalised.

There has not been confirmation as to how the referendum question will be phrased or whether or not the 8th amendment will be abolished in it's entirety should a referendum be successful.

The Taoiseach is said to be awaiting the final wording of the bill before revealing his stance in the issue.

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Children's Minister, Katherine Zappone, has said she would be in favour of examinations at the sites of other mother and baby homes.

Speaking in the Dáil today, she announced the appointment of a forensic archaeologist who will lead a team of experts which will assess the future of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co. Galway.

She also told her colleagues that the dignity and memory of those children who died at the home needed to be respected and that she hopes to build consensus among survivors about what should happen next.

As well as that, the Minister assured the Dáil that the process of examination would be transparent and open.

“We have made too many decisions in this country in the dark,” she said.

“We are not going to do that again in relation to Tuam.”

Speaking to reporters this evening, Ms Zappone said:

"If there is the possibility for remains of children that are unidentified in other homes, in terms of what I've heard and what I feel, yes I would like to see the possibility of work done in that regard," she said.

"That's why what we're trying to do in Tuam is so significant and frankly it's unparalleled throughout the world."

This comes after the remains of over 800 babies were found at the Tuam site during a test excavation in October 2016.

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The Dáil is set to debate our mental health laws at Leinster House today.

A new Bill from Fianna Fáil is being discussed today, which aims to strengthen the rights of people and children when they're undergoing psychiatric care in hospital.

This will include a debate about including measures in the law which would give patients a say about what care they receive.

'90% of people who go into psychiatric units are there voluntarily, but there's no assessment as to whether or not those people actually have the capacity to make an informed decision and that is wholly unacceptable,'  Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne told News Talk. 

'What we're trying to do is empower a situation where those people have their rights assessed and enforced.'

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny will make a speech in the Dáil recognising Traveller ethnicity today. 

 It is thought that the speech will officially formalise the unique identity of Travellers.

Traveller rights groups have been campaigning for an official status for many years, and today is being marked as a "historic day" for Traveller rights by groups such as Pavee Point. 

A post from the group on Twitter said that the Taoiseach's speech would “mark an historic and hugely important day for Travellers.”

"We want every Traveller in Ireland to be proud of who they are and to say that we're not a failed set of people," said former director of the Irish Traveller Movement Brigid Quilligan, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

"We have our own unique identity and we shouldn't take on all of the negative aspects of what people think about us."

"We should be able to be proud and for that to happen our state needed to acknowledge our identity and our ethnicity and they're doing that today."

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Richard Boyd Barrett was in the Dáil today to talk about the misuse of drugs in Ireland, but nobody could help notice his attempt at the 'dab'.

For those of you who haven't a notion what the 'dab' is (we're in that boat too), it's the new dance craze sweeping the world of social media.

It involves throwing one hand up in the air at a 45 degree angle and then throwing your other hand up to cover your face. Let's just say it's the macarena of 2016.

Just have a look at Deputy Boyd Barrett:

Get it? 

We were equally confused when we saw this, but Richard was there to talk about a very serious topic – the misuse of drugs in the country.

“We need to start to listen to young people, and the people who work with them, and the people in disadvantaged communities."

“One thing I promised some of the young people in my area I’d do in the Dáil because they said: ‘what do you guys do in there? Do you have any idea what’s going on?’

“And they asked me to do something, which is a bit of street language – from the street. When kids are trying to make a positive statement on the street they do a thing called a dab. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, it’s like that," he said.

*Que the dabbing*

“I don’t know what it means – but we need to learn what it means. Learn what young people are talking about, what matters to them, what they consider positive activity. Support them, resource them and fund them, rather than this misguided nonsense.”

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We are no stranger to Paddy Power and their fearless advertising campaigns that are known to poke fun at various individuals and groups in Ireland. 

And now it seems that all the ministers in Dáil Éireann are the butt of the joke in their latest ad that has been seen around Merrion Square and Kildare street today and yesterday. 

As the election date is finally announced today, the message emblazoned on a large mobile truck for ministers is: "TD's, don't forget to settle up your bar tabs."

The cheeky line references a rather large bill that has been raked up by TD's in the Dáil bar as of November 2015. 

According to the Sunday World, the ministers owe a total of €28,642 to the official government watering hole (and that was before all the inevitable Christmas parties).

And seeing as the current government has officially dissolved, it seems that Paddy Power wants to give a friendly reminder to ministers. 

"You’d think that any member of the 31st Dáil would understand a thing or two about servicing a debt, but unfortunately a few of them have been skimping on their tabs," said a spokesperson for the betting company. 

"We’re only too happy to give them a timely reminder before they hit the campaign trail."

Touché, Paddy Power, touché. 

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