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Ireland is failing to meet its obligations regarding hate crime, report says

The report was written as an alternative to previous hate crime reports submitted to the United Nations.

The report recommends including a reference to online incitement of hatred in Irish law.
The report recommends including a reference to online incitement of hatred in Irish law.
Image: Shutterstock/Ksrisanga

IRELAND IS FAILING to meet its obligations in relation to hate crime, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Limerick (UL). 

This report has been presented an alternative to Ireland’s fifth, sixth and seventh periodic reports on hate crime and related issues to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

This Committee is meeting over the next few weeks to review the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Ireland, Cambodia, Columbia, Israel and Uzbekistan.

One of the authors of the report Dr Jennifer Schweppe said hate crime and hate speech has been under review for nearly two decades in Ireland “without action”. 

The Committee has chosen hate crime and incitement to hatred as two issues it specifically wants the State to address and we look forward to having a discussion with the Committee on these issues,” Schweppe said in a statement.  

The four issues addressed in the report to be tackled relate to: 

  • Changes to the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 
  • Hate crimes
  • Racial profiling
  • Training in the criminal justice process 

The Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG) at UL was asked by the Coalition Against Hate Crime, an organisation of several groups who are commonly targeted in hate crimes, to write this alternative report on the issue of hate crime and related matters.

Recommendations 

The group presented its findings to the UN Committee this morning in Geneva. It said the majority of previous recommendations have not been brought in so far in Ireland. 

The researchers found that is it unclear the number of convictions made under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. The report said the Irish Law Reform Commission considers this Act to be ineffectual in combating online hate speech. 

The report further recommends including a clear reference to online incitement of hatred in Irish law. 

Dr Sindy Joyce, the first Traveller to graduate with a PhD in Ireland and one of the leaders of the Hate and Hostility Research Group, said this was an “important opportunity to highlight the policy vacuum in Ireland” when it comes to hate crime. 

“Ireland, and its police, are wilfully ignoring racial profiling, which is highlighted in the fact that children as young as four years of age were entered onto the Garda Pulse system and given criminal tag numbers,” said Joyce. 

Joyce is referring to an incident which is described in summary in the report involving two young Traveller children who were allegedly “recorded and given criminal tag numbers” in the Pulse system. 

A report of the Children’s Ombudsman found in 2014 that the actions of gardaí removing a child from his Roma parents “conformed to the definition of ethnic profiling”. 

The report found that there is no clear legal statement currently to say that racial profiling is against the law and no official data on racial profiling available. 

There is also no evidence that gardaí have received training in relation to racial profiling, the report says.  

The Department of Justice is currently in the consultation process of existing legislation on hate speech until 13 December. 

The department has been contacted for comment on this report.  

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