Newstalk
Newstalk

18.37 3 Jul 2019


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The Rape Crisis Network has welcomed a two month jail term handed down to a man for filming 'upskirt' footage of a woman in Dublin.

Russell Sykes, from South Carolina, pleaded guilty to engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature following the incident at the Dublin Pride Parade on Saturday.

Caroline Counihan, Legal Policy Director with the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said the swift prosecution sends out a positive message on sexual crimes.

“The matter was very soon before the courts in front of Judge [Conal] Gibbons whose remarks I applaud,” she said.

“It is very encouraging for survivors when that kind of positive statement in words and deed come from Gardai, the DPP and the judge in the case.”

'Upskirt'

Ireland has yet to follow the lead of England and Wales in introducing a specific offence for ‘upskirting’ – but Ms Counihan said it can be prosecuted under general lewd conduct laws.

“The conduct is not described in the legislation as specifically upskirting but these offences are quite generally drafted are often very, very useful to get at a range of conduct,” she said. “Different kinds of lewd and offensive behaviour.”

The offence is set to be included in a new bill tackling harassment and harmful communications which is currently before the Oireachtas.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill will also tackle “revenge pornography” and online stalking.

Sex offence laws

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said Ireland’s sex offence laws need to keep pace with technology.

“That idea of taking pictures, taking photos on a mobile phone of somebody’s underwear is a relatively new concept since mobile phones became more widespread,” she said.

“So we do need to update our law on a regular basis and one of the issues I have certainly raised over many years is the need to consolidate our legislation on sex offences to ensure that there is a coherence and consistency across them.”

Legislation

The planned new laws were  recommended by the 2016 Law Reform Commission (LRC) report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety.

The report recommended fines of up to €5,000 and 12 months in prison for minor offences and unlimited fines and seven year prison sentences for more serious cases.

Upskirting was made an offence in England and Wales in February.


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