The Cabinet has approved planned legislation aimed at tackling the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
The original bill was drafted by Labour leader Brendan Howlin and based on a 2016 report by the Law Reform Commission.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan sought approval from Cabinet, which met in Cork, to draft amendments to Mr Howlin's Private Members' Bill, which has been accepted by Government on what is termed a priority basis.
This legislation seeks to create offences for the non-consensual distribution of intimate images with intent to cause harm or distress - including what is sometimes called "revenge porn".
The Government amendments will also provide for a separate offence to deal with another image-based form of harmful communication - what is termed "upskirting".
Such types of harassment would be defined as including all forms of communication, not just posting an image online, but also the exchange of such an image from one person to another.
Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar says Cabinet has approved planned legislation on harmful Online content re applying criminal sanction to those who carry out so-called ’revenge porn’ and ‘upskirting’ pic.twitter.com/weFaUNaws6— Paul Cunningham (@RTENewsPaulC) May 1, 2019
Under Mr Howlin's legislative proposals, the maximum prison term for such offences was specified as seven years.
The Labour leader said that this was a sufficient deterrent and added that a suggestion to place those found guilty on a sex offenders list should also be examined.
Mr Howlin hopes this legislation can be enacted before the Dáil summer recess.
Minister Flanagan has yet to disclose his preferred position, but it is understood the Government plans on introducing significant changes to the original Bill to ensure that it is consistent with existing statute law.
As he arrived for the Cabinet meeting in Cork's City Hall, Toaiseach Leo Varadkar was met with a noisy reception from Irish Farmers' Association protesters demanding a Brexit support package for beef farmers.
Additional reporting Micheál Lehane