Minister pushed on hate crime laws
2018-08-01 15:33:10 -
Photo source: Flickr

By Chinedu Onyejelem

The clamour for effective hate crime laws in the country was recently highlighted in the Dáil in the wake of separate reports from the IHREC and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) highlighting State failure on the issue.

In his response to a Dáil question from Labour TD Tommy Broughan on any pending hate crime legislation as urged by the IHREC, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said there was commitment by Minister of State for Equality David Stanton and himself “to ensuring that Ireland is a safe and secure country for all those who live here and that racism, homophobia and all forms of discrimination are not tolerated.”

The minister continued: “Important research into the issue of hate crimes in Ireland has been carried out by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the University of Limerick, and their recommendations will be given careful consideration.”

At present, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 creates offences of incitement to hatred because of a person’s race, religion, ethnic, nationality or sexual orientation. 

“Under the provisions of the act, it is an offence to use words, behave, publish or distribute written material, or broadcast any visual images or sounds which are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended, or are likely, to stir up hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere,” the minister said.

‘Hatred’ in the act is defined as “hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the Travelling community or sexual orientation.”

Criminal law also deals with crimes motivated by hate, the minister said, adding that “where criminal offences such as assault, criminal damage, or public order offences are committed with a racist motive, they are prosecuted as generic offences through the wider criminal law and the trial judge can take aggravating factors, including racist motivation, into account at sentencing.“

Minister Flanagan said the views of stakeholders as well as the main points in the ICCL report will be considered in the provisions of the 1989 act which are “now under review”.
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