Calls for stalking law to be changed
Action needs to be taken to make stalking a stand-alone crime with longer sentences in Ireland.
That’s according to West Cork Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) who believes Ireland should follow in the footsteps of the UK where stalking is defined as a crime separate to harassment.
Currently in Ireland, the act of stalking is prosecuted under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
Cllr Kelly’s comments follow an eye-opening interview on the ‘RTÉ Late Late Show’ last month when stalking victims Eve McDowell and Cork woman Una Ring shared their stories with the country.
According to Cllr Kelly, when stalking was made a crime in the UK, there was an immediate increase in prosecutions which she said underlines the necessity of such legislative change.
“The terms stalking and harassment are sometimes used interchangeably but they can be significantly different. Stalking is more intense and sinister. Stalking is a pattern of fixated, obsessed behaviour which is repeated, persistent and intrusive,” she said.
Bandon-Kinsale Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) added: “There are many cases that go under the radar and are disregarded. Stalking is defined as a separate crime in the UK legislation; there's no reason why it should not be so here.
“If people that fear they are being stalked, if there was a stand-alone law, I think it would increase complaints of this sort.”
Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on 'The Late Late Show' last month, stalking victim Una Ring said there is an immediate need for a change in legislation surrounding stalking.
“When he was messaging me for the six weeks, that was harassment. But when he crossed the line to come to my house, that was stalking. When somebody comes to your house with a crowbar, rope, duct tape, or what they call a ‘rape kit’, that’s not harassment. That’s far, far beyond it. It’s insulting for it to be called harassment because it completely diminishes what myself and Eve went through,” she said.
Una Ring and Eve McDowell have since established a website with information and a petition to have the legislation changed.
Mayor of County Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said: “One of the lady's on ‘The Late Late Show’ was from my area in East Cork. When I saw what went on I was actually horrified to think something like this could go on and not be prosecutable.”
For information and to sign a petition to have stalking legislation changed in Ireland, visit stalking.ie.