CORK woman Una Ring says there needs to be a specific law to tackle stalking, as she and another woman joined forces on a campaign calling for such a law.
On February 4, her stalker 52-year-old James Steele from Rosscarbery, was jailed for five years, after pleading guilty to harassment, criminal damage, and attempted trespass with the intent to commit rape at Ms Ring’s home in Youghal between February 14, 2020, and July 27, 2020.
She has come together with Eve McDowell from Sligo, who was also a victim of stalking, and the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, to launch a campaign seeking specific legislation for stalking.
She said: “There needs to be a separate law for stalking. When he was texting me, that was harassment. When he was coming to my house, that was stalking. There is a big difference.”
She added: “It is a horrible feeling, knowing that you are being watched. It is horrific.”
And she said that stalking is lot more prevalent than people realise.
She added that a website set up as part of the campaign is very important as it provides information and advice to victims of stalking.
She said: “When I was going through it, there was very little help out there. I did not know where to turn or who to turn to.”
But she praised the gardaí in east Cork for their work on the case, saying: “they were just phenomenal”.
“If it wasn’t for the gardaí, I really don’t know what would have happened.”
Mary Crilly of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre said: “We would like the minister to take another look at the legislation. Harassment does not cover stalking — it is so different to harassment. I feel we have a strong case.”
Ms Ring and Ms McDowell will host a webinar on May 6 which will be addressed by both women as well as experts in the area.
For more information see www.stalking.ie.