16th April 2021 | Crime, Justice, Press Releases

New hate crime legislation sends strong signal that peddling hate is not acceptable in Irish society

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The Green Party welcomes today’s (16th April) publication of the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021. The Bill will create new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic.

Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth stated,

“The Green Party sought to ensure that Hate Crime legislation was included in the Programme for Government and introduced within 12 months of the Government formation. It will mean that hate crime is finally recognised in law and punished appropriately and that the voices of victims will be heard and listened to.”

The list of protected characteristics under the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 will include race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, sexual orientation and will ensure Traveller ethnicity is recognised in the main definitions in the new law, on the same basis as other ethnicities. The new Bill will also be expanded to include gender, gender expression, and disability as proposed characteristics.

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media stated,

“Perpetrators of hate crimes sow division in our communities. This new legislation negotiated by the Green Party into the Programme for Government will ensure hate crimes are dealt with effectively through the criminal justice system. The bill will create stronger penalties where crime against a victim is motivated by prejudice or hate.

“This legislation will dovetail with work I and my department are doing in progressing a new system to reduce the spread of harmful content online as part of the Online Media and Safety Regulation Bill. Oral hearings at committees level will begin on that before the summer. That legislation will see new codes for removing harmful content online as well as a new online safety commissioner to regulate this.”

The General Scheme also proposes new offences of incitement to hatred, which are clearer and simpler than those in the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act. These offences cover inciting hatred against a person or persons because they are associated with a protected characteristic, and also disseminating or distributing material inciting hatred.

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, said:

‘There is still a lot of work to do but the introduction of this legislation is an important step towards recognising the damage and terror that hate crimes cause to many people in Ireland due to gender, ethnicity, disability and more. It signals that Irish society welcomes and celebrates difference and diversity and that targeting victims because of their association with a particular identity is totally unacceptable within our country.”

Joe O’Brien, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development added,

“I’m really happy to welcome the publication of the Hate Crime Bill today. It’s going to give a really strong signal to people who peddle hate to various groups that it is no longer acceptable and we will no longer tolerate it. I’m particularly happy to see specific protections in the Bill for people in the Travelling Community.”