171. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to revise harassment laws here in view of the impact of cyberbullying on the mental health of a person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12895/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am aware that the Deputy asked a similar question in November 2018 (46670/18) and I would refer him to the answer provided at that time. I can assure the Deputy that work is continuing to progress legislation to reform the law in the area of harassment, with a particular focus on harmful communications online in light of growing concerns in relation to the impact of such behaviours.
The Deputy will be aware that Deputy Brendan Howlin published a Private Member’s Bill entitled the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 which completed second stage in the Dáil in January 2018 and was not opposed by Government. The Cabinet agreed in May 2018 to support Deputy Howlin's Bill to ensure that legislation can be enacted as swiftly as possible.
Officials in my Department have met with Labour Party officials with the intention of identifying and bringing forward any necessary Government amendments to ensure the Bill can be as effective as possible. I have recently received legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General and I have asked my officials to consult the Labour Party on the proposed amendments to this Bill. I remain committed to enacting this legislation at the earliest possible opportunity.