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Government says it won't oppose Fianna Fáil's hate crime Bill

The Fianna Fáil Bill aims to tackle crimes that are linked to race, sexual orientation or gender.

Memorial outside the landmark Stonewall Inn for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando in 2016 in New York City.
Memorial outside the landmark Stonewall Inn for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando in 2016 in New York City.
Image: Shutterstock/Christopher Penler

THE GOVERNMENT will not be opposing the Fianna Fáil Bill aimed at tackling hate crime.

The Dáil will this evening debate the Bill which seeks to ensure that the option is open to the gardai and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to pursue a hate crime conviction.

The Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016 aims to make offences committed with prejudice relating to the race, colour or ethnic origin, a disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity to be illegal.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said while she had some difficulty with the “vagueness of certain terms in the Bill” she would not be opposing it.

Hate crime legislation is already in existence in Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

“This Bill essentially seeks to tackle hate crimes in an effective and robust manner. Under this Bill, if someone is convicted of an offence that is aggravated by prejudice or hatred, then this must be taken into account when sentencing,” said Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin.

‘Out of step’

“Ireland is out of step in not having specific hate crime laws. I firmly believe that such legislation is needed and that there is an onus on us to make it clear that such hatred will not be tolerated in our society,” she added.

Victims continue to pay for these crimes due to inadequate legislation, O’Loughlin told the Dáil this evening.

“They are forced to accept their identity was targeted,” she said.

Cork-South West TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said the Bill will bring Ireland’s legislation up to date and not only make hate crime based on disability an offence, but will also improve the reporting and recording of hate crime, which she said is generally under reported.

The deputies said they are happy to discuss amendments should the Bill make it to Committee stage.

A number of TDs such as Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien and AAA-PBP Brid Smith opposed the Bill from proceeding. The Bill does not mention the Travelling community, which is one of the reasons stated for opposing it.

Forced marriages

Today, the Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald got Cabinet approval to make forced marriage a crime.

TheJournal.ie understands Fitzgerald sought approval today to include the new measure in the draft of the Domestic Violence Bill.

Currently, forced marriages are not currently crimes. Under this new measure it will now be a criminal offence.

Read: Call for repeal of ban on people with intellectual disabilities having sexual relationships>

Read: Fine Gael TD fined €3,000 for littering with ‘Keep the recovery going’ posters>

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