Stalking and non-fatal strangulation will become standalone offences under new plans, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has announced.

Courts will also be able to issue restraining orders without a criminal prosecution.

These new laws are the result of a campaign by Eve McDowell and Una Ring along with Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers.

Both stalking and non-fatal strangulation are already crimes, but these changes aim to make the law in this area clearer and stronger.

It is also hoped the move will create greater awareness and reporting of stalking offences.

The changes will emphasise the harms caused by these actions and allow for more effective prosecutions.

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Ms McEntee said non-fatal strangulation can be an indication of future, lethal violence and is a risk factor for homicides against women in the home.

The provisions will be added to the new criminal justice bill, which will be introduced this year.

Women's Aid Chief Executive Sarah Benson described non-fatal strangulation as a "particularly dangerous and high risk form of assault".

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, she said that Women's Aid "very much welcome" the statements made by the minister and Department of Justice.

Recognising non-fatal strangulation as a standalone offence is a measure that the organisation has been calling for, for some time.

Stalking as an offence does not currently exist in the law, she said.

Ms Benson described stalking as "something that is very well understood as a term", but there is no legislation and that it should be seen as distinct from harassment.

She said that a "crucial additional component" in the planned new laws is the capacity for civil restraining orders to be applied.

She said that these are a "crucial preventative measure in situations of stalking where at a very low level when something has been perceived to be happening, knowing that it can escalate to become incredibly disruptive, incredibly distressing and in some cases, incredibly dangerous, being able to apply for a civil order to restrain somebody while a criminal trial is proceeding which as we know can take a long, long time is something that is particularly notable in this law".