269. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if legislation to deal with hate crime will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41921/19]
15 October 2019
Charlie Flanagan- Minister for Justice and Equality
My Department is currently reviewing the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, to determine what amendments are required in order to ensure it is effective and fit for purpose in a modern democracy. The public consultation on the Act to which the Deputy is referring is due to commence shortly and details will be published on my Department's website.
Separately, my Department is undertaking research into hate crime (offences under the general criminal law, such as assault or criminal damage, that are committed with a hate or bias motivation), to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions who have taken different legislative approaches . That separate research project is well underway. This research will be completed in Q4 of this year and the results will help develop new approaches to ensure hate crime is addressed effectively in Ireland.
Taken together, this work will significantly advance our understanding of what is needed to ensure that legislation in this important area protects and supports those who are targeted by expressions and acts of hatred.
There is widespread public interest in reforming our approach to hate crime in this jurisdiction and this is something I welcome. I will consider the outcomes of all of the exercises which are now taking place in my Department on this subject, and will draw on this evidence to bring forward the necessary proposals for change.
Finally, I would point out that where a crime is identified as having hate as a motivation, this may be taken into account by the Court as an aggravating factor, thereby increasing the sentence imposed.