Gardaí said they are investigating reports that ten of thousands of intimate images of Irish women have been shared online without their consent. 

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said she was angry about the sharing of such imagery and plans to make the sharing of intimate images without consent a criminal offence.  

A number of women claim they uncovered a document earlier this week that was circulating on a file sharing website which showed intimate images of thousands of women with accompanying information that suggested they were Irish.

They said further investigations unearthed tens of thousands of similar images

Campaigner Katie Kilgannon - who was involved with the search - said the images included pictures stolen from private social media accounts and cloud storage accounts.

They also included images that had been shared consensually with intimate partners, images that she described as "pirated" from subscription websites and images that had been captured on hidden cameras in changing rooms, toilets and bedrooms. 

Megan Sims, who is also involved in the online campaign around the images, said the issue has caused anxiety and stress and left a lot of people concerned that their images may be on these files. 

In a statement tonight, gardaí said they are investigating the reports and are acutely aware of the upset and concern among people.

Read more
What is 'revenge porn' and is it illegal in Ireland?

But they said that some comments circulating on social media about the issue are not factual.

Gardaí are trying to establish the facts and are appealing to anyone who has been a victim of harassment following the uploading of personal explicit imagery without their consent, at any time, to contact their local Garda station.

Helen McEntee said she will bring proposals to Cabinet next week to make it a criminal offence to share intimate images without consent. The legislation will ensure that anyone who does so will face serious criminal sanctions.

She said she would work with Labour's Brendan Howlin to amend and enact the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill.

"This is not just about revenge porn - sharing such images will become a criminal offence, regardless of the motivation of the person who passes them on," said the minister.

"It will also be irrelevant if consent is given for an intimate image to be taken - I will ensure they can never be shared, even if consent was given for the image to be taken." 

The CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, said she regarded the sharing of these kind of images as abuse which causes real harm to the victims involved. 

She said people who have been affected should be aware that there is help and support and should not blame themselves for what has happened.

If any of these issues affect you, and you need to talk to someone, you can reach Women's Aid at 1800 341 900 or the Rape Crisis Centre at 1800 778 888.