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There are plans for tougher hate crime laws following Waterford anti-Roma protest

Heads of Bill for hate crime to be presented to Junior Minister Aodhán Ó Riordáin by next May.

Image: Sam Boal via Photocall Ireland

Updated: 19.30

LABOUR MINISTER AODHÁN Ó Ríordáin said we need to have more robust legislation in Ireland to deal with incidents of hate crime.

He was speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland following the anti-Roma protest in Waterford over the weekend.

The Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality said that the current legislation in terms of incitement to hatred – the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act- is not fit for purpose.

“We need legislation to set the threshold of decency.”

Ó Ríordáin added that the heads of a Bill are being prepared by a group of NGOs and that he hopes it will be presented to him for consideration next May.

He said he will then take it to Government to get support.

The Imigrant Council of Ireland said it is vital that this timeline is adhered to if the laws are to be enacted before the 2016 General Election.

Brian Killoran, Integration Manager with the Council, said that recent events in Waterford highlighted “an issue which faces families and individuals on a daily basis”.

The fact that families are forced to lie awake at night fearing their a brick through the window or racist graffiti on their home is unacceptable.

“It is our view that while the timeline is tight it must be met if there is to be any chance of laws being introduced in the lifetime of the current Government.”

Yesterday Ó Ríordáin said that he would be terrified if he was a Roma person living in Waterford or even in Ireland.

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Describing the incident in Waterford, he said:

It looked like a lynch mob, people were chanting Roma Roma Roma – out out out.

Ó Ríordáin added that, “If people are concerned about individuals committing criminal acts then they should contact the gardai who can deal with issues of criminality.

When questioned about the arrest and de-arrest of a man at the protest,  he said:

The gardaí know how to deal with these situations and there wasn’t another protest after that.

The Immigrant Council recorded an 85% rise in reports of racism to its dedicated email address, stopracism@immigrantcounil.ie, in 2013.

Additional reporting: Órla Ryan

Originally published: 9.28am

Read: Anti-racism protest takes place in Waterford>

Read: Aodhán Ó Ríordáin opens up about being bullied at school: ‘I used to be called Gaydhán Ó Queerdáin’>

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