4. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the introduction of a court order against harassment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21288/19]


Deputy Charles Flanagan: A couple of days ago, the Deputy published the Domestic Violence (No-contact order) (Amendment) Bill 2019. This Bill provides for a new no-contact order that would enable a court to prohibit the respondent from communicating with the applicant where the respondent has subjected the applicant to harassment. The Bill defines harassment as conduct that has occurred on at least two occasions that causes another person alarm or distress. It proposes that a person could apply for a no-contact order against any other person and to amend the Domestic Violence Act 2018 to provide for the new no-contact order.
I acknowledge the Deputy's strong role in respect of support for victims of domestic violence. I commend the courageous victims of abuse who have come forward to seek positive changes. In legislating to ratify the Istanbul Convention, we have recently introduced a wide range of legislative reforms.
In the first instance, as with every new legislative proposal, it will be necessary for the provisions of the Deputy's Bill to be carefully and thoroughly examined by my Department, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General. As the Bill was published only a couple of days ago, the Deputy will appreciate that it has not yet been possible for this examination to be completed. The Government will give the Bill full consideration before Second Stage and I look forward to an extensive and constructive debate on its provisions on that Stage.
In addition, I believe the Oireachtas committee scrutiny process will be of great value as it will provide an opportunity for detailed examination of the Bill's provisions before Committee Stage and for the committee to hear the views of relevant experts in the area. In view of the wide scope of this Bill, which encompasses not only its main focus of domestic violence but could also, because of its broad terms, apply to behaviour such as disputes between neighbours or online disagreements, I believe it would be useful for the committee to consult experts in the area. There are many stakeholders in that regard and I am in regular contact with many of those groups.