By Cate McCurry, PA
Anti-racism campaigners have urged the Oireachtas to speed up the enactment of hate crime legislation.
The Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) and the Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland (CAHC) delivered signatures from their Love Not Hate Campaign to Minister of Justice Helen McEntee at Leinster House on Thursday.
The petition calling for legislation to be enacted was endorsed by more than 90 organisations and has over 15,000 signatures.
The Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 was examined by the Oireachtas Justice Committee, which is due to report in the coming months.
INAR, a member of the Coalition Against Hate Crime, which comprises organisations representing minority groups, has been calling for hate crime legislation since it first launched the Love Not Hate Campaign in 2015.
Claudia Hoareau, chair of INAR, said: “Although the Hate Crime Bill is still being discussed, its urgent enactment into law is particularly relevant given the rise in attacks on minority ethnic groups recently seen with the attack on the Lion King cast.
“Good hate crime legislation, while not an all-encompassing solution for racism, bigotry and inequality, can provide a firm basis for protecting people from the worst impacts of discriminatory violence and crime, and providing clarity to An Garda Siochana for responding appropriately, taking into account affected communities’ needs.
“I would like to thank all organisations, the Love Not Hate Campaign endorsers and all those that signed the petition as we would not have come this far without their unwavering support.”
Luna Lara Liboni, chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crime, added: “Hate crimes are message crimes, they target people because of what they represent, affecting entire communities and society as a whole.
I was privileged to be at the start of the @INARIreland ‘Love Not Hate’ campaign, watching it gain huge support over the years.
Culminating today in the widely supported petition being handed to Govt, calling for the Hate Crime bill to be enacted in law, now. pic.twitter.com/Mv5eqUIszf
— Eileen Ní Fhloinn (@Love1solidarity) February 10, 2022
“As a coalition made of a multitude of different targeted groups, we’re also sending a message: we stand together for an Ireland where everyone feels not only safer but a respected and valued member of society.
“Hate crime legislation is a needed step in that direction.”
Labour TD Ivana Bacik said the enactment of legislation will provide a basis for classifying crime motivated by hate for the first time in Ireland.
“It will provide an important tool to assist gardai and the prosecution service,” Ms Bacik added.
“It will provide for first time a statute for the harm suffered by victims where crimes are motivated by hatred or prejudice.
“It will send an important signal that society in Ireland condemns this sort of behaviour and bring us into line with similar laws in other EU jurisdictions.”
The Department of Justice has been contacted for comment.