Revenge pornography and cyber stalking are set to become illegal offences, after Cabinet approved the drafting of a Non-Fatal Offences (Amendment) Bill to address loopholes in current legislation.

It follows a report from the Law Reform Commission in September, which dealt with harmful communications and digital safety.

The commission determined there were potential gaps in criminal legislation with regard to "so-called revenge pornography and the publication of voyeuristic material without consent".

The commission also made proposals on the regulation of social media.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald will now draft a bill providing for new and extended criminal offences in this area.

The bill is expected to include an extended offence of harassment, a specific offence of stalking, and a new offence covering revenge pornography.

The commission also recommended the existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages should be extended to apply to all online communications.

In its report, the commission added that the intentional shaming of somebody should be punishable, where it involves the distribution of images without consent, with a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and/or fines.

Ms Fitzgerald said "the speed and scale of modern online communication can magnify the damage done by harmful communications" and that "it is important that we act now to ensure our laws can deal effectively with these challenges".

The Childrens Rights Alliance welcomed the move saying it will being Ireland in line with other jurisdictions which have already brought in similar legislation.


Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan also welcomed the announcement but said there also must be civil remedies open to those affected, saying there was a responsibility on the websites to remove offending images as quickly as possible.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said it is hoped the draft legislation will become law sometime in 2017.