An Oireachtas Committee has heard of concerns around significant targeting of women online.

Celine Craig, Deputy Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, said that this was most notable with female politicians and journalists, but but not confined to these groups.

During a session of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Ms Craig said that there was a "significant targeting in a way that we believe has the potential to cause real harm".

Ms Craig told Sinn Féin TD Johnny Mythen that new legislation, which will establish a new system of regulation for both internet and broadcast companies located in Ireland, might need to be more specific regarding the types of harms that breach regulations.

Both the BAI and the Data Protection were appearing before the committee, as it scrutinises legislation known as the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.

It will see the BAI subsumed into a larger and more powerful Media Commission.

The new Media Commission will also have an Online Safety Commissioner's office.

Data Protection Deputy Commissioner Anna Morgan told TDs and Senators that the DPC has also seen an increase in user-generated content that is considered "offensive, harmful, defamatory or detrimental to the health/ safety or well-being" of individuals.

In her opening statement to the committee, Ms Morgan warned the Committee that the legislation in its current form "excludes material that violates data protection or privacy law from falling within the scope of harmful content".

Ms Morgan said that it is important that the "Media Commission has the power to regulate all types of harmful online content, irrespective of whether they involve personal data".

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland told politicians that it's essential that the new Media Commission has sufficient resources.

Its Chief Executive Michael O'Keefe told Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield that staff numbers will need to increase significantly from the approximately 40 in the BAI at present.

Mr O'Keefe said that there is a need to begin a recruitment process as soon as possible.

In his opening statement to the Committee Michael O'Keefe of the BAI said the organisation believes that "there must be the potential for the Media Commission ultimately to order the timely, fair, and proportionate removal of content, subject to any necessary regulatory safeguards".

Senator Shane Cassles said that it was an interesting time to be discussing these issues, given today's verdict from Facebook that former US President Donald Trump is to remain banned from both the Facebook platform and Instagram.