Communities affected by hate crime call on Government to ensure Hate Crime Bill is passed as a matter of urgency

Data published today shows that hate crime has increased for second year running

 

8 May 2024. The Coalition Against Hate Crime, a group of 23 civil society organisations which represent communities impacted by hate crime, is calling on the Government to recommit to the Hate Crime Bill and ensure it is passed by the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency, in light of new statistics which show that recorded hate crime has increased for the second year in a row in Ireland. 

 

Ireland is unequipped and unable to address hate crime at a criminal justice level. Research has shown that in the absence of legislation, the hate element – which makes a crime a hate crime – is not addressed in a consistent way and often disappears in the criminal process. Legislation would make the invisible visible and recognise the additional harm caused by a crime that targets a person’s inherent identity, sending a clear message that such behaviour is not tolerated in our society.

Responding to the publication today by An Garda Síochána of its annual hate crime and hate-related incident statistics, Chairperson of the Coalition and Senior Policy Officer with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Luna Lara Liboni, said: 

 

“The statistics published today by An Garda Síochána show a second year of increase in recorded hate crimes and incidents in Ireland. While it is positive that people are coming forward with their experiences, this is also an indicator of what those of us who work with, are part of and represent minoritised communities already know – hate crime and hostility towards our communities are a growing reality in Ireland. These numbers should serve as a wake-up call for all public representatives and political parties as to date, Ireland still has no hate crime legislation.”

 

Speaking today at a press conference responding to the publication of the statistics, Martin Collins, Co-Director, Pavee Point, said: 

 

“Hate crime happens all over Ireland, and it leaves people and their wider communities – including Travellers and Roma – in fear. Because a hate crime doesn’t affect just one person, it can make an entire community feel excluded and unsafe. The government needs to ensure the speedy passage of this Bill as a statement of intent to protect communities which are vulnerable to hate crime and extreme hate speech.”

 

Shane O’Curry, Irish Network Against Racism, said: 

 

““We welcome the publication of this data. This is a sign that An Garda Síochána are recognising crimes motivated by hatred, and the specific harm caused by them. It sends out a signal to wider society that such crimes are unacceptable. The increase in racist attacks is shocking but unsurprising given the efforts by the far right to stir hatred, and we suspect the real figure is much higher. It’s over to government now to pass the Hate Crime bill to give An Garda Síochána the tools they need to tackle this growing problem.”

 

Pádraig Rice, Policy and Research Manager, LGBT Ireland, said:

 

“The statistics released by An Garda Síochána today reflect the lived reality of LGBTQ+ people in Ireland. Unfortunately, the community has witnessed a continuous rise in hate crimes. This requires a robust response from the Government. The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill must be progressed urgently. Beyond the Bill, we need a holistic action plan.

 

“While LGBTQ+ people have won the right to walk down the aisle, many of us still look over our shoulder as we walk down the street. The truth is homophobia, biphobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are an everyday reality for many LGBTQ+ people in Ireland.”

 

The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 would introduce hate crime legislation for the first time in Ireland and update existing legislation on extreme hate speech. 

 

The Coalition Against Hate Crime has called for the introduction of hate crime legislation for many years. Research shows that, beyond affected communities and human rights organisations, the introduction of legislation is supported by Gardaí and legal professionals.

 

A recent study also shows that there is clear appreciation among the general public of the harms of hate crime, that hate crime is seen as a serious and growing problem and that there is a high level of public support for the protection of a broad range of characteristics under legislation

 

ENDS