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Sam Boal
dublin riots

'We are going to get them': Taoiseach to expedite CCTV and incitement to hatred legislation

‘We are going to get them,’ Varadkar said when speaking about those who caused violence on the streets of Dublin yesterday.

CCTV AND INCITEMENT to hatred legislation is to be expedited, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

Speaking in Dublin Castle this morning following the aftermath of riots in Dublin city centre yesterday, Varadkar condemned the violence, saying: “We are better than this.”

He went on to commend the gardaí for putting themselves in harms way in their policing.

The Taoiseach said those involved in violence and looting will be brought to justice, stating that government will move to make legislative changes in the coming weeks.

“We’re also bringing through legislation at the moment around the use of CCTV, the gardaí collected a huge amount of CCTV evidence last night, we have a lot of CCTV in the city centre.

“It’s important that we’re able to use modern technologies to go through that and go through it quickly.

“So we want to make sure that we make those changes to our laws in the next couple of weeks to allow the gardaí to use that evidence and go through that evidence and identify the people who are involved in these actions and we are going to get them,” said Varadkar. 

There was disagreement in recent months between Government parties over plans to legislate for facial recognition technology (FRT), with a decision made to proceed separately with the roll out of bodycams for gardaí and to introduce FRT through standalone legislation.

Varadkar added: 

This morning, as Taoiseach, I promise that we will use the full resources of the law – the full machinery of the State – to punish those involved in yesterday’s grotesque events – and we will put in place measures to ensure that any repeat attempts will meet the full measure of the law. 

“We have sufficient Gardaí and there are more in train. We have sufficient equipment and there is more on the way. We have strong laws and the Garda Commissioner is free to use the Public Order Act over the weekend as required.

“We will pass new laws in the coming weeks to enable the Gardaí to make better use of the CCTV evidence they collected yesterday, and also we’ll modernise our laws against incitement to hatred and hatred in general – and that is more required than ever was the case before,” he added.

“To all those cowardly champions of Ireland who took to the streets of Dublin last night, let me say one thing.  Ask your sisters – ask your friends – ask everyone you know – what they fear most on the streets.   They are afraid of you.  They are afraid of your anger and rage.  They are afraid of your violence and your hate, how you blame others for your problems,” said the Taoiseach.

Incitement to hatred laws

In addition, Varadkar said he plans to push ahead with incitement to hatred legislation.

“I think it’s now very obvious to anyone who might have doubted it that our incitement to hatred legislation is just not up to date. It’s not up to date for the social media age. And we need that legislation through, we need it through within a matter of weeks,” he said.

“Because it’s not just the [social medial] platforms that have responsibility here and they do. There’s also the individuals who post messages and images online that stir up hatred and violence and we need to be able to use laws to go after them individually as well,” said Varadkar. 

The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 has been delayed after a chorus of negative reactions to the bill grew louder in the first half of this year. 

The legislation is undoubtedly controversial as there has been opposition to it from some members within government as well as some rather diverse quarters, such as Elon Musk and Eric Trump. 

During the Seanad debate in June, a number of senators spoke about their concerns with the proposed legislation. 

Independent Senator Michael McDowell said the bill in its current state “isn’t in a good shape”, while Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers said there are “reasonable questions” around the legislation that need to be asked.

Varadkar said in July that he “strongly disagrees” with people who dismiss hate crimes as being “wokeism”, claiming that Ireland is seeing a rise in racism. 

The Fine Gael leader said that although Ireland is not experiencing the same rise of the far-right as other European countries, he suggested similar trends seen elsewhere are occurring on these shores. 

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