Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I propose to share time with my colleague, Deputy Murphy O'Mahony, who is co-sponsoring the Bill. I am delighted to bring forward the Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016 before the Dáil. This Bill essentially seeks to tackle hate crimes in an effective and a robust manner. As Fianna Fáil spokesperson for equality, I am sponsoring it along with my colleague, Deputy Murphy O'Mahony, our party spokesperson on disability. Deputy Murphy O'Mahony will address the disability-specific issues in her contribution. Legislation is fundamental to demonstrate the State's intolerance of hate and to allow for hostility to be measured and challenged. This Bill can provide a positive route to improving State responses and although the implementation will always need strong and inclusive leadership, these proposals should provide the foundations for an effective solution.

The 2011 census established that diversity is now a concrete fact of life for Ireland. Shifting patterns have changed the racial, ethnic and religious composition of Irish society. This change in society has not been welcomed by all and for some, diversity represents a threat to "Irishness" and frequently meets with violent opposition. Hate crime has become a fact of life in Ireland. Yet, alone among European nations, Ireland has not introduced statutory protections from hate crime. If the harm of hate is to be acknowledged and countered, this Dáil must act to provide a legislative framework for the explicit naming of bias crime. Ireland must join other nations in ensuring that the violence of hate experienced by vulnerable individuals and communities is challenged head-on.

In a society that expounds principles of inclusivity and diversity, which was founded on the idea that all people should be cherished equally, and which has recently celebrated the welcoming and embracing of difference, crimes of hate are simply unacceptable. It should not be the responsibility of victims to avoid being targets of hate crime; it is the responsibility of the Legislature to send a clear message to society that this behaviour is not tolerated. It is then the responsibility of the criminal justice system to ensure this message is operational. By adopting our legislative proposals, we hope to provide tools that society needs to combat criminal expressions of hatred, hostility, prejudice, bias and contempt.

The human rights of some living in Ireland are currently being violated on a daily basis in a manner that is deeply damaging to both individuals and society. In the absence of an adequate criminal justice response to hate crime offenders, victims continue to pay for these crimes. Research provides convincing evidence that victims of hate crimes suffer more severely than victims of equivalent crimes that are not associated with targeted hostility. Victims of hate crime cannot simply assert that their experience was an unlucky occurrence or a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead, they are forced to accept that their social identity was targeted and they remain at risk of repeat victimisation.

Our proposed Bill will ensure the option is open to the Garda and Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue a hate crime conviction should such an offence have occurred. It has been pointed out for some time now that Ireland is out of step with the majority of countries in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union in that we have made no legal provision for hate crime in this country. That is what this Bill seeks to do; it will make provision for aggravation by prejudice of offences in circumstances where an offence, when, at the time of commission, is accompanied by prejudice relating to the race, colour or ethnic origin, a disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity of a person and to provide for related matters if so proven. This Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016 proposes that when an offence occurs and that offence is aggravated by prejudice relating to colour or ethnic origin, a disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity of the person against whom the offence is committed and when it is stated in either an indictment or a complaint, or both, that an offence is aggravated by prejudice, then on conviction, the court shall find that the offence is aggravated by prejudice relating to race, colour or ethnic origin. The court shall also record the conviction in a manner that demonstrates that it is an offence aggravated by prejudice and will take this into account when determining the sentence. Where the sentence in respect of the offence is different from that which the court would have imposed if the offence was not aggravated, it shall state the extent of and the reasons for that difference. Therefore, the effect of this Bill would be that the courts would have to consider an offender's prejudice or hatred towards these groups and sentence the offender accordingly.

Currently we have the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 in place. This Act makes it an offence to incite hatred against a particular group but it does not criminalise those who commit the crimes against that group except under general legislation. We also need to bear in mind how much Ireland has changed since that time. As the Immigrant Council of Ireland has pointed out, it is now two decades since immigration into Ireland commenced and it is time for our laws to reflect the major changes that have taken place. Ireland is behind the curve when it comes to having effective legislation in place to deal with hate crimes. Currently, we do not have specific hate crime laws and such legislation is needed. This will help make it clear that such hatred will not be tolerated in our society. Similar legislation is in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales and many non-governmental organisations and voluntary bodies have been highlighting the need for hate crime legislation.

It is possible too that we are not in compliance with the implementation of the European Council's 2008 framework decision on combatting certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. The 2008 framework decision states that with regard to hate crime, "member states must ensure that racist and xenophobic motivation is considered as an aggravating circumstance, or alternatively that such motivation may be taken into account by the courts in determining the applicable penalties."

In July, shortly before I moved this Bill in the Dáil, the Rape Crisis Network insisted that we need to introduce hate crime legislation in this country. A report published by the Rape Crisis Network indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual, LGBT, survivors were more likely to have experienced multiple incidents of sexual abuse and they generally took longer to report these incidents. The director, Dr. Clíona Saidléar, said hate crime legislation would make it easier to protect vulnerable LGBT victims. The report, based on research during 2013, had many alarming findings, such as that lesbian, gay and bisexual survivors have higher levels of multiple incidents of sexual violence than heterosexual survivors. Gay and bisexual males had almost twice the levels of rape of heterosexual males, at 63% compared with 34%. Moreover, 47% of lesbian, gay or bisexual survivors waited more than ten years to report the abuse, compared with 21% of heterosexual survivors. As Dr. Saidléar, director of Rape Crisis Network, commented, "the evidence in this report makes a strong case for the need for hate crime legislation. LGBT people are targeted by homophobia and hate."

Similarly, the LGBTIreland report for 2016 found that LGBT people face levels of discrimination and harassment and that many LGBT people cannot be themselves in their daily lives. The report indicates significant levels of harassment or discrimination experienced by LGBT people in Ireland.

Up to one third of participants had experienced verbal harassment or threats of violence due to being LGBT while 21% had been punched, hit or physically attacked during their lifetime. A shocking 75% experienced being verbally hurt, more than 50% would feel unsafe or very unsafe holding the hand of their same-sex partner and 15% had been sexually attacked. Many of us know many of these people.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, GLEN, makes the point that information about violence and harassment against LGBT people is very limited because of the under-reporting of such experiences. In order for the Garda Síochana to provide comprehensive services and strategies to tackle this violence, there must be a full understanding of the true extent of such occurrences. This corresponds with the European Council's 2008 framework which found that under-reporting is common for hate speech and hate crime. According to the CSO, there were 113 hate crimes recorded in 2013, 94 of which were racist, two were anti-Semitic and 17 were homophobic. The European Network Against Racism Ireland recorded 137 religiously or racially aggravated crimes in 2014 while between December 2014 and June 2015, GLEN recorded 19 homophobic or transphobic crimes. In 2015, 240 racist incidents were reported to the Immigrant Council of Ireland compared to 217 in 2014.

The introduction of hate crime legislation is also backed by those at the forefront of the fight against racism. In bringing forward this Bill this evening, I am very conscious that a number of NGOs and voluntary bodies have indicated a belief that it is in need of amendment. Let me be clear that I am absolutely fine with that. I am happy to discuss and agree amendments to this legislation. Indeed, I may very well bring some amendments forward myself should the House agree to allow this Bill to progress to Committee Stage. My primary concern and that of my party is to get hate crime legislation onto the Statute Book. It is vital that this House sends a clear message that crimes motivated and exacerbated by prejudice and hatred will not be tolerated. I commend the Bill to the House and look forward to hearing other Members' contributions.

I am delighted to be able to bring this very important Bill to the House because it represents an important step forward in the pursuit of equality and justice for all of our citizens. As a constitutional republican party, Fianna Fáil has always been committed to fighting discrimination in all forms. In government, Fianna Fáil brought forward policies and legislation to advance the rights of people with disabilities. Our proactive approach in government made a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities. Fianna Fáil was the first Irish party ever to set out a comprehensive commitment to address the specific needs and rights of people with disabilities. During our time in government, there was a dramatic change in terms of legislation, planning, specialist service provision and access to mainstream services and activities for people with disabilities. To that end, the first national disability strategy was developed and commenced. The strategy set out a comprehensive package of legislation, policies and targets. In addition, thousands of day, residential and respite care places were created while a mandatory quota for the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector was also put in place. These are just some examples of the progress we achieved while in government.

This Bill is a vital step forward in further advancing and protecting the rights of people with disabilities because if passed, it will make it an offence to commit a crime motivated by prejudice. Violent offences motivated by bias, hostility, contempt, malice, or bigotry - in effect, hate crimes - must be legislated for and Ireland is one of the few EU member states without effective hate crime legislation. Indeed, research conducted in 2015 by the hate and hostility research group, HHRG, at the University of Limerick found that hate crime lives in the shadows of Irish criminal justice and is systematically "disappeared" from the criminal justice process. The researchers argue that no one organisation or policy is at fault in this process but that it is a system-wide failure to recognise the harms of hate. Systematic blindness results in a "disappearing" of the hate element of many crimes in the criminal justice process and a failure to provide victims with appropriate protection under the law. The researchers went on to point out that this disappearing of hate crime from the criminal justice system is most particular in the case of disability hate crime.

Based on data from the 2011 census, 13% of the Irish population is classified as having a disability. Research has shown that living with a disability affects people in multiple ways. People with disabilities are more likely to experience poverty and deprivation, have lower levels of educational attainment and are less likely to participate in the labour market. While people with disabilities face structural and cultural barriers that can prevent them from participating fully in society, research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights shows that violence, harassment and abuse are also regular occurrences for many people with disabilities, creating another barrier to their inclusion and participation in the community, thereby reinforcing the exclusion of an already marginalised group. This is then compounded by the fact that crime is often not understood, forgotten about or considered of lesser significance than hate crimes motivated by racism, religious intolerance, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

This Bill is a very positive step forward in enhancing and protecting the rights of persons with a disability. It is my hope that this Bill will not only make hate crime based on disability an offence but will also improve the reporting and recording of disability hate crime which is generally considered to be under-reported. Disability hate crimes may be one-off incidents or systematic abuse that may continue over periods of weeks, months or even years. It can happen between strangers who have never met, between friends or within the family. However, it occurs and it is important that we have the relevant statistics and accurate reporting to help us improve the situation for victims as well as identify ways to reduce and eliminate hate crime.

While this proposed legislation is a vital step, it should operate in tandem with awareness raising and further research into disability hate crime so that we have a fuller picture of the forms that such crime can take, its effects and consequences. This proposed legislation must also be looked at in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was signed by Ireland in 2007. A commitment has been given in the programme for Government to put the ratification before the Houses of the Oireachtas by the end of 2016. Ratification will represent a huge step forward in advancing the rights of people with a disability in Ireland and will demonstrate this country's commitment, albeit late in the day, to promoting and protecting the full enjoyment of human rights by people with disabilities and ensuring they have full equality under the law.

The convention covers a wide range of areas, including health, education, employment, access to justice, personal security, independent living and access to information. This proposed Bill complements the convention and will help to ensure that the State lives up to its commitment under Article 16 of the convention to take "all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse". It is my sincere hope that the Government makes ratification a priority and in the coming weeks puts in place the legislative changes that are required to ratify the convention. Every person has an equal right to be protected by the criminal justice system. Stopping disability hate crime and bringing perpetrators to justice must be a priority. As elected representatives and legislators, we have a duty to put in place mechanisms that will counter the prejudice, hostility and violence that people can experience as a consequence of disability. By legislating for disability hate crime and raising awareness of it, we can improve the inclusion of people with disabilities into our communities. However, we must not limit our responses to disability hate crime to the justice system alone. We must work at all levels of society to challenge discrimination and prejudice and ensure that people with disabilities are treated as full and equal citizens.

I thank Deputies Margaret Murphy O'Mahony and Fiona O'Loughlin for introducing this Bill. No one could disagree with the purpose of the Bill which aims to ensure that where an offence is committed against a person that is motivated by prejudice or hate relating to the victim's race, colour, ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identification, motivation will be taken into account for the purposes of determining sentence.

The issue of legislating for crime motivated by prejudice against another person has increasingly been the subject of discussion. It has been argued that introducing such provisions recognises the impact such crimes have on victims. While I would agree with that view, I believe aspects of the Bill before the House require further consideration. I refer, for example, to provisions that could give rise to unintended operational difficulties in the prosecution of these offences.

Currently, if an offence such as assault or criminal damage is committed against a person based on his or her race, religion, sexual orientation or other identity characteristics, the offence is prosecuted as an offence under the wider criminal law. The judgment of the Court of Appeal in DPP v. Elders in 2014 unequivocally states that racist motivation is an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing. It is open to a judge to consider any other bias motivation as an aggravating factor in the same way. In effect, if in the course of a criminal trial it is demonstrated that some form of bias motivated the offence, a judge may consider that in sentencing. This is in line with the requirement on all sentencing courts when determining a sentence to take into account both the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the offender. Under the provisions of the Bill before the House, bias motivation cannot be taken into account unless it is stated in the indictment or complaint and it is proven that the offence is so aggravated. I ask the Deputies to consider that this could in fact be a significant restriction on existing judicial discretion.

I would like to mention some other potential issues with this legislation. The Bill, as drafted, applies to all offences on the Statute Book. It appears to be modelled on the UK Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which specifies the criminal offences to which it applies, namely, assaults, criminal damage, public order offences and harassment. I believe the more targeted approach of identifying the specific offences to which the Bill would apply is preferred and would avoid any possible problems in prosecution. Clearly, the Bill could not be applied to the offence of murder, for which the mandatory sentence is imprisonment for life. It is also in respect of successfully prosecuting offences that I have other concerns relating to the Bill. As I have mentioned, the Bill requires the aggravation by prejudice to be proven, whereas it is currently sufficient for bias motivation to be demonstrated during the trial for a court to take it into account as an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing. By establishing a higher standard in this regard, this Bill could limit the circumstances in which bias motivation could be taken into account during sentencing. I also have concerns about how the provision in the Bill whereby "it is proved" that an offence is so aggravated would work in practice. As I have said, the Bill does not create an offence per se. When a trial involves a jury, it makes a determination on the offence with which the person is charged, such as assault. Under what circumstances would the motivation be determined? If it is not a matter for the jury, and I do not see how it can be, it seems difficult to envisage how this would operate in practice. It does not seem appropriate for a court following a verdict of guilty from a jury to state that the offence was aggravated in the manner set out in the Bill where this was not a matter determined by the jury. Clearly, this matter needs to be clarified before the Bill proceeds further.

While this is one of the more challenging aspects of the Bill, I would like to highlight some other issues which are perhaps more straightforward to address. For instance, the Bill provides for the aggravation of sentences for offences based on race, colour, ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identification. I would be grateful if the sponsoring Deputies could clarify whether they considered including other forms of prejudice within the Bill, such as prejudice based on religious intolerance or a person being a member of the Traveller community or prejudice based on a person's gender beyond that provided for under section 4. I mention religion, gender and membership of the Traveller community specifically as these groups are protected under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, which prohibits actions which are likely to stir up hatred against particular groups. There seems to be a case that any group identified for the purpose of protection from incitement to hatred should equally be protected under legislation along the lines of the Bill that has been presented today.

I believe there is a difficulty with the vagueness of certain terms in the Bill. For instance, the Bill provides that an offence is aggravated by prejudice if "at the time of committing the offence or immediately before or after so committing, a person evinces towards a victim of said offence, malice or ill-will". The concept of "ill-will" is not defined and is potentially difficult to prove. I also have questions about the definition of "disability" in this Bill, which is based on the definition contained in the Disability Act 2005. I think that definition might be too narrow, given the purpose of this Bill. I am sure this can be considered further by the Deputies who introduced this Bill. I noted Deputy O'Loughlin's confirmation that she would be open to considering amendments and ongoing improvements to the Bill. I am highlighting these issues because I think they need to be considered. Despite the concerns I have highlighted, I do not oppose the principle of this Bill. I raise these issues to highlight areas that merit further consideration if the Bill is to achieve its purpose and not have unintended consequences. I ask the Deputies to reflect on these issues.

The whole question of hate-motivated crime is under consideration in my Department. This involves a review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 as well as ongoing consultation with the European Commission on the State's implementation of the framework decision on racism and xenophobia. The latter is part of the Commission's EU-wide review of the implementation of that particular framework decision. This is in line with recommendations contained in the Law Reform Commission's report on harmful communications and digital safety, which was published last week. While one of the issues addressed in that report concerns online hate speech, the report recommends a wider reform of hate crime, which would include hate speech. I would like it if this Bill and the discussions here tonight could feed into the ongoing work in my Department on this issue.

As I am sure the Deputies present will agree, addressing hate crime and hate speech is not simply a matter of introducing tough legislation. The many people who have responsibility for working on these issues can make a difference by taking a variety of other actions. For example, the Garda racial, intercultural and diversity office has responsibility for co-ordinating, monitoring and advising on all aspects of policing Ireland's diverse communities. This is an ever-increasing issue, given the changing population in this country. In addition, Garda ethnic liaison officers work directly with minority communities at local level. As Deputies are aware, many non-governmental organisations are working on a range of diversity issues. I note the research that has been done by both Deputies on the challenges facing many of the people this Bill is intended to address. Despite the passing of the marriage equality Bill last year, it is clear that we must continue to be alert to ongoing issues of discrimination.

The same point can be made with regard to disability. I am happy to confirm to the House that we will make the further legislative changes that are necessary to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the end of this year. The Department of Health has to do some additional work before that will be possible. In addition to the work of the Garda, my Department's office for the promotion of migrant integration is the focal point for the Government's commitment on anti-racism as a key aspect of integration, diversity management and broader national social policy. Later this year, we will publish the Government's integration strategy, which has already been the subject of a great deal of consultation. I think that will be a very important marker of the State's approach to the question of integration and the kind of issues we need to address. I thank the Deputies for bringing forward this Bill. I welcome the debate we are having today. I repeat that we do not intend to oppose the Bill.

In the spirit of providing constructive opposition, I will begin by welcoming the opportunity to debate the issue of hate crime legislation. I also welcome the initiative of Deputies O'Loughlin and Murphy O'Mahony in prioritising the introduction of a Bill to put hate crime legislation on Ireland's Statute Book. Over recent years, a number of non-governmental organisations and human rights groups have repeatedly called on the Government to legislate for specific hate crimes. In particular, they have called for the introduction of legislation to cover crimes against people from minority religious and racial groups. Unfortunately, this State is no stranger to hate crimes. Declan Flynn was murdered in Fairview in 1982 for being gay.

In 2002, a 29 year old Chinese student was beaten repeatedly with metal bars as his attackers shouted racial slurs. As recently as 2010, two Polish men were stabbed in the head with screwdrivers after being racially abused. There are many other such instances.

The aim of hate crime legislation is to provide for an enhanced sentence if merited if an attack has taken place because of a bias held by the attacker. It may be a bias on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or religion. An attack carried out because of this bias, in my opinion, sends a message to minority groups that they are different, not wanted or not welcome. It is only fair, then, that these attacks should warrant extended criminal prosecutions, indictments and provisions, given the effect they have on an entire community. Sinn Féin, a party with a true republican ideology, has always and will always view all of Ireland's inhabitants as equal. As the justice and equality spokesperson on behalf of Sinn Féin, I have been disappointed at the lack of hate crime legislation to date, as has the Minister. I know that the Minister is preparing a Bill, a move we welcome. Sinn Féin understands that many minority groups in today's society believe they are completely marginalised and at risk of attack because of their skin colour, religion, sexuality, disability or ethnicity. However, this proposed legislation is no more than a proposal. It is an attempt, a poorly-constructed attempt at that.

Section 1 deals with the interpretation of the Bill. If the authors are tripping up at the first obstacle, then we have to wonder what hope there is for the rest of the Bill. I will outline the problems I have identified. These and other problems have been identified by NGOs as well. Even the Minister has outlined some of the difficulties in the proposed legislation.

Section 1 provides an interpretation of the term "disability". The Minister has expressed her view on this. It links back to the Disability Act 2005. It is important for people with disabilities that they are protected by such legislation and the inclusion of this measure is warmly welcomed. However, neither of the Fianna Fáil Deputies have made any attempt to describe ethnicities, origin or race to enable them to be covered in this Bill. I wondered whether I had misread the legislation when I discovered that in the interpretation of the Bill, there was a clear omission in respect of giving any description to these vital factors.

I am unsure how a judge or jury could make a ruling on whether a defendant is guilty of a prejudiced attack on the grounds of race or ethnicity if no guidelines whatsoever are included in respect of protected ethnicity or race in the Bill. Judges and juries already have a difficult job without having to become accomplished mind-readers in the middle of a trial. The Minister has pointed out the difficulties in the Bill in this regard. It is proposed that if there is a prejudice, it would have to be stated on the indictment and could not be formulated during the course of the trial. That is counter-productive.

I find it insulting to the many members of the Traveller community in Ireland that Fianna Fáil simply did not bother to take this opportunity to classify their group as a protected ethnic minority in Ireland. Pavee Point, various other groups and Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for this on behalf of the Irish Traveller community. These calls have been consistently ignored by Fianna Fáil and the Government. Then again, I suppose if the brother of the Fianna Fáil Party leader and his colleague objected to a vote in favour of classifying Travellers as a protected ethnic minority on Cork City Council, why would I expect Fianna Fáil to behave any differently at a national level?

Section 1 offers protection to members of the LGBT community, including those who are transgender. This is another point I welcome. After the support last year for the marriage rights referendum for the LGBT community, I imagine we can all agree that there is still a need to protect the community with hate crime legislation. However, I believe this Bill has fallen short in protecting a number of subgroups within the LGBTQ community. Specifically, there is no mention in this legislation of protection for people on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression. While there is always a need to include gender as a protected ground in any new law, this Bill excludes those who might be targeted on the basis of cisgender identity. I wish to bring to the attention of the Fianna Fáil Deputies present the repeated calls by the European Network Against Racism to withdraw the Bill in favour of examining the existing heads of a Bill from 2015. The heads in question were drafted by ENAR and more than 60 NGOs working in the area of hate crime. A detailed Bill was produced and ENAR has asked that it be considered by the Oireachtas. That Bill was drafted on the back of a report following the establishment of a working group. Unfortunately, that has not materialised.

Shane O'Curry, director of ENAR, has expressed concern on the question this week. He said this Bill is fundamentally flawed and that passing it would be deeply counter-productive. That opinion is shared by a coalition of more than 60 NGOs, academics and authors. They have stated that the Bill is so deeply problematic as to render it unworkable and unamendable. It uses outdated language and does not cover trans people, Travellers, refugees or asylum seekers. This is a glaring oversight, unfortunately, one I find difficult to understand, given that I come from a community with a growing population of differing religions.

According to reports in recent years from Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and the European Network Against Racism, there has been a marked increase in attacks on people of African origin. Furthermore, there is evidence in my constituency in Cork of a rise in attacks against people of Islamic faith.

Despite all of this, the Fianna Fáil Bill neglects to mention what ethnicities or origins are covered under attacks of prejudice. In many other jurisdictions, clear parameters are set out. The nature of a prejudiced attack is that it is prejudiced because it has been perpetrated against a member of a protected ethnicity or race. Without these parameters, this legislation is unworkable in court. Again, the Minister has made this point. The Fianna Fáil Deputies may have forgotten to include those parameters when they copied and pasted many sections of the Bill from Scottish legislation. There are numerous similarities between the Scottish legislation and this Bill. These have been identified not only by me and my party but also by the European Network Against Racism and the many bodies on which ENAR frequently calls for advice, including the hate and hostility research group in the University of Limerick. I am afraid to say it but this Bill is essentially a copy-and-paste of Scottish law but this is not Scotland. This is a frightening example of lazy legislating. Ireland has a significantly different criminal justice context. We have constitutional requirements in respect of which Scottish law takes a different approach. These include the guarantee of equality and freedom of expression and the requirement for certainty. Without addressing these constitutional points, the Bill is simply unworkable.

ENAR has also noted that there is absolutely no mention of coverage in this Bill for members of minority religious groups. That is staggering. I am unsure whether this has been done by accident or design. Either way, Fianna Fáil has actually further marginalised those who are already struggling to integrate in this State by excluding them from legislation, the purpose of which is to protect these very same groups. Hate crime is not about protecting minority groups that Fianna Fáil may earn votes from. It is about providing legal protection to all minorities against attacks because of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender expression or sexual orientation. It would seem that in producing this Bill, Fianna Fáil has actually marginalised more groups that it proposes to protect.

It is not just my party that is unhappy with the Bill. Several interest groups, human rights groups, non-governmental organisations and some trade unions have expressed concern about it. They have asked for it to be completely rejected because it is so fundamentally flawed that it is beyond saving by amendments on Committee Stage. That is their opinion and it is mine.

I am also a bit dismayed by the apparent lack of consultation by Fianna Fáil with the relevant interest groups. The Deputies may outline in the closing stages of this debate what consultation they had with the NGOs who have called their legislation fundamentally flawed and unworkable. When any legislation is being drafted or thought of the first port of call should always be those who are most affected by the proposed law, those who campaign daily on the issue and those affected by the issue who need the protection of a Bill such as this. We should offer them the opportunity to give their opinion on the development of a Bill. Had this happened the Bill might not have as many glaring deficiencies as it does. With this Bill Fianna Fáil has created new offences but has given no indication whatsoever of the severity of a sentence for someone convicted of a crime of prejudice. It is creating a crime without creating a punishment. The only reference to that is that the judge must take it into account at sentencing but it does not say what the consequences will be.

I am concerned about how little detail is in the Bill. There are many jurisdictions around the world that have hate crime laws on their statute books but those laws are very rarely used because they are poorly constructed and unworkable. If this Bill was to pass in its current state we would become another state that talks the talk about hate crime laws but does not walk the walk. This is not a road we want to go down. There is no point in having legislation unless it can be implemented properly and accordingly and it is our belief that this Bill could not function within the context of Ireland’s legal system. I would be the first to let a Bill go to Committee Stage if I thought there was any hope of it being amended but allowing this Bill go forward to Committee Stage would be irresponsible and regressive. For that reason we cannot in all good conscience support such vague legislation and will vote against it on Second Stage.

It is welcome that we are debating hate crime legislation because there is certainly a need for it. I commend Deputies O’Loughlin and Murphy O’Mahony for giving us the opportunity to debate it and for drafting legislation. We also have difficulties with the way it is drafted but we are willing to allow it go through Second Stage. On the point made by Deputy Jonathan O’Brien, there is a need for wide consultation with a variety of civil society groups etc. which have been calling for such legislation. There are pieces and sectors left out of this legislation.

When we were in government the then Minister of State, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality, investigated the need for hate crime legislation. Some findings were made and the “love not hate” campaign started and was supported by many trade unions and civil society groups. In her contribution Deputy O’Loughlin said she would be open to amendments to the legislation and if that was not the case we would not be able to support the Bill because it needs considerable change and expansion.

Hate crimes are horrible crimes motivated by prejudice and there have been some very ugly examples, as outlined by Deputy Jonathan O’Brien. We have to change attitudes and the legal response. That is why it is important to have legislation, particularly given the motivation for and the violent and gruesome elements of many of these crimes. The definitions need to be expanded. They are not by any means inclusive. Travellers in particular are not included. In the equal status and employment equality legislation there are nine grounds for discrimination some of which are not included here, such as ethnicity, and the lesbian gay bisexual transgender, LGBT, definitions are not totally inclusive. If we are to end up with inclusive and workable legislation the Bill needs considerable amendments.

Reference was made to the Scottish legislation but the English and Welsh legislation is a better model. Sentencing alone will not address the issue; there are more extensive ways of addressing hate crimes in the English and Welsh legislation. It has to be legislation for ourselves and our country. We often pride ourselves on progress we have made in a variety of ways but we still have, very sadly, a minority of people who will commit vicious crimes purely on the basis of having a prejudice against a group of people that they do not see as people like themselves. We need to change that through legislation and in a variety of other ways, such as dealing with bullying in schools and attitudes. We need to change the way people think but a big and vital element of that is having legislation that is a strong enough deterrent and states clearly that these crimes are not to be tolerated and are to be appropriately punished. There is a variety of civil society groups which have done a lot of research on this, including the University of Limerick, and we need to draw on all of that for legislation, whether this Bill or the one the Minister is working on, but we need it soon.

We will not support this Bill. There is absolutely a need for a Bill which addresses hate crime. There have been attacks on migrants, refugees and people from different religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds and we would welcome a Bill that addresses this problem correctly but unfortunately this Bill is not what we need.

I am not fully equipped to deal with whether this Bill is workable in the Irish legal context but I do know the opinions of Jennifer Schweppe and Amanda Haynes of the Hate and Hostility research group that this is not suitable and we cannot transpose an Act from Scotland to here without running legal risks.

However, I want to concentrate on what is not proposed in the Bill. The wording on categories at risk from hate crime have been pointed out. They are outdated, regardless of how well meaning they may be. For example, the Deputy uses a term in the Bill for trans people. Is it not possible for the terms to cover Roma, people without documents, refugees or those seeking asylum? The key to the success of a Bill dealing with hate crime would be to identify the victim groups we are seeking to protect. On that key issue, this Bill is, to say the least, wanting. For example, the wording on trans people does not recognise individuals who face hate crime as a result of their being agender or gender fluid, which would be a far better concept to protect people based on their gender identity and gender expression.

More worrying in an Irish context, and as referred to by other speakers, is that the Bill does not specifically mention Travellers. That is crucial and I will concentrate on that aspect for the remainder of the time available to me. Rarely a month goes by when we do not witness prejudice against Travellers in this country. On many occasions, statements that could encourage discrimination and hate are directed at the Traveller community, often by elected representatives, some in this House and in many county councils up and down the country. To give some examples, Fianna Fáil Councillor Sean McEniff said on a local radio station in Donegal that one would not want them beside one and that he did not want them beside him. The councillor made a number of remarks about Traveller families ranging from saying they would wreck houses to branding them as bad eggs.

Councillor Tom Sheahan referred-----

It is not customary to mention names of those outside the House when they are not here to defend themselves. I ask the Deputy to desist from doing that.

Okay. Another councillor from Kerry referred to people from outside the county who had relocated in Kerry securing houses over people who had been on the waiting list for a longer time. He actually mentioned 150 Wards. He did not mean electoral areas but the family Ward on the county council waiting list. If those and many other comments were directed at any other group, it would be seen as a clear example of a hate crime or of encouraging a hate crime.

I will quote from a study of Travellers in Britain because we do not have proper studies of hate directed at Travellers here. The facts and figures are stark. Nine out of ten gypsy and Traveller children suffered racial abuse and two thirds of children from Traveller groups have been bullied and physically attacked in other communities. We do not document or record incidents involving Travellers or others here but we know, to paraphrase another, that it is the last acceptable form of racism and it is practised by councillors and Deputies across the country.

While there is a reference in the Bill to race, colour and ethnic origin, it does not recognise Travellers as a distinct ethnic group, despite Travellers campaigning across the country to have their ethnicity recognised. We still do not do it.

I want to make a wider point on the limitations in the Bill. Hate and hostility should be dealt with. We are in favour of a category of offence that states that where there is an attack, such as a violent or verbal attack on a person that is motivated based on hate of gender, race, ethnicity or other category, it should be recognised and we should say, as a society, that we find those attacks intolerable and they should be dealt with.

I have a question for all of us. What about hate and discrimination when the State is the agent of it? If we define hate as hostility, prejudice, bias or hatred, I believe this State at all levels, from Government to Departments and down to local authorities, in how it operates and deals with Travellers, has a case to answer. If hate is not demonstrated in the response of the State to the crisis, for example, in Traveller accommodation, Traveller life expectancy, health outcomes, educational achievements, etc., then I do not know the definition of hate. To mention a few, the cuts to the Traveller accommodation budget have been appalling. It went from €40 million in 2008 down to €4 million last year. That is a 90% cut to Traveller accommodation alone during the period of the recession. The cuts to Traveller education are in the region of 84% and many of us have seen the impact of that in our communities.

In terms of the discussion last week on the accommodation crisis in Dundalk, we responded to that and we responded after the fire in Carrickmines last year. We are not supporting this Bill as an alternative. There are better worded alternatives coming from people who were involved in the very campaigns and crimes this Bill says it will address. The Bill fails to address the issues around anti-Traveller sentiment and actions by individuals, the State and its bodies.

I call Deputy Thomas Pringle. There are nine minutes in this slot.

I will be sharing time with Deputy Clare Daly. It is welcome to have the issue of hate crime, or aggravated bias, on the agenda in the House tonight. Unfortunately, I will be voting against the Bill because I believe it is outdated and not fit for purpose. I am suspicious of the timing of the Bill and wonder if this is the dark side of new politics. Is it a way to get the European Commission off the Government's back as it investigates Ireland with regard to its obligations under the 2008 Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia?

What is most astonishing is the fact Fianna Fáil did not seem to consult with any of the victims' groups or any representative organisations in regard to the Bill. I remind the House of the incredible work carried out by the Hate and Hostility Research Group, which is the only research group in Ireland dedicated to the study of hate crime. In particular, I want to acknowledge the work carried out by Dr. Amanda Haynes and Jennifer Schweppe who, alongside ENAR Ireland and TENI, have been pushing for progressive policy and legislative changes for over a decade. In fact, in 2015, the findings of all their research and the heads of a Bill were published, which Fianna Fáil seems to have completely sidestepped and dismissed throughout this whole process. That 2015 Bill had the support of the working group on hate crime established by the former Labour Party Minister of State, now Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

According to experts in the field of hate crime, international best practice draws on three key elements which need to be considered in a legislative context. First, determining which victim groups are to be protected; second, deciding whether the "hate" element will be addressed by way of aggravated offences or aggravated sentencing; and, third, determining how "hate" will be established and what "hate" is understood to mean. This Bill substantially fails in all three elements. However, due to time constraints, I will focus on the first element, which is the identification of victim groups that should be afforded protection in legislation.

First, Deputy O'Loughlin failed to reference the most recent statistics on hate crime. There was mention of CSO figures and that 113 hate crimes were recorded in 2013 but the most up to date figure for 2015, directly obtained by ENAR Ireland’s iReport data project, would suggest a much higher figure of 165 crimes. The report showed the highest rate of assault for a six month period since iReport began in 2013, which is a very worrying trend but not worrying enough for Fianna Fáil to mention. How can it legislate for an issue if it does not know the true extent of it?

Fianna Fáil has also failed to determine the victims' groups. The Bill refers to transgender identity, which includes transvestism, transsexualism, intersexuality or having changed gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2015. However, that language is dated and does not represent the full diversity of the trans community. The correct wording in the Bill should instead reference sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. This would be in line with international best practice and provide robust coverage of trans and intersex experiences and identities.

The inclusion of intersex is positive but it fails to mention agender or gender fluid persons, which fails to afford the protection of individuals on the basis of their gender identity and gender expression.

There is no mention of membership of the Traveller community, which is consistently targeted in hate crime or bias. It is not good enough to mention ethnicity in the Bill when the Traveller community is not recognised as an ethnic group. Furthermore, the Roma community, which is very much vulnerable to hate crime or bias, is not mentioned in the Bill. We only have to recall the murder of Marioara Rostas to remind us of the fact.

It is not clear in the Bill if the mention of disability includes developmental and intellectual disabilities such as autism. The list goes on. There is no mention of cisgender identity and it excludes protection of women who are subject to misogynistic hate crime or bias. There is no reference to religion, belief or lack of, and in the context of rising Islamophobia, it is incredible that was omitted in the Bill.

The Bill also failed to mention residence status, which will leave out protection for those who are targeted because they are refugees or are seeking asylum seeker status. There is no mention of age, either of elderly people or children targeted by their status.

The Bill fails in its codifying of outdated language, including the term "hate crime", although I use it here; in its lack of consultation with interest groups; in not identifying the victims groups who need protection; and in not specifically addressing the groups that are disproportionately targeted in society.

It will serve well to remember what one victim said of hate crime, “in theft, you are going for the value of the object [but with hate crime] you are going for the value of the person”.

In many ways it is unfortunate that Members are discussing something that potentially could have been a positive and constructive proposal but find themselves obliged to concentrate on all the massive glaring omissions and the categories of citizens who deserve legislative protection in this regard and who certainly are not getting it. I am glad Members have highlighted the issue of hate crime, which I appreciate, but it could have been so much better. I had the advantage this morning of attending a highly constructive meeting on the harm that will be done regarding the proposed legislation on criminalising the purchase of sex. I met some Traveller women at that meeting who told me I would be discussing this hate crime Bill in the Dáil tonight. I replied I did not think so and had not seen such a measure on the schedule because I had not looked at the fine print. However, they were utterly shocked at the concept of their exclusion from this legislation. It probably is the most identifiable group in Irish society that needs protection from such a provision and their omission is glaring. I note that in its press release, Fianna Fáil pointed to the legislation that existed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and Wales and how supposedly this legislation would bring us in line with that. However, those jurisdictions have something we lack, namely, the recognition of Traveller ethnicity and they recognise Travellers as a distinct ethnic group.

This Bill does not give any protection to Travellers and on that basis alone, is severely worrying. Let us face it, they probably are targeted more than anybody else. In fairness, Sinn Féin moved a Private Members' motion that called on the Taoiseach to recognise Traveller ethnicity, which would have committed the Dáil to implementing the recommendations of the April 2014 report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on the recognition of Traveller ethnicity before the end of the last Dáil term. That proposal was supported by Fianna Fáil at the time and I do not know why Fianna Fáil did not re-table it now because were it to do so, it would be passed. That would be something concrete that could really deal with an issue in this regard. If Members wish to deal with equality, let us put that centre stage because to me, tabling so-called equality legislation that explicitly excludes one of the most discriminated against and vulnerable sections of the community is simply bizarre. It has the net effect of making a discriminated against minority feel even more discriminated against than they were before Members mentioned this proposal, which I think is ludicrous.

It is appropriate to mention the statistics because there clearly are people present who do not get it. Travellers on average die 15 years younger than the general population and infant mortality is three times that of the general population. The female and male death rates are, respectively, three and four times those of the general population. Fewer than 1% of Travellers progress to third level education. I refer to the details of four and five-year-old children being put up on the PULSE system - babies in some instances - because of where they came from. The Travelling community is discriminated against at every turn and is particularly vulnerable to attack. It is an absolute everyday feature of Traveller life and a Maynooth study from 2010 even reported that 60% of Irish people would not welcome a Traveller as a member of the family.

Deputy Bríd Smith mentioned the activity of a number of councillors who have played a role in stirring up racism but I put it that the Deputy sitting opposite overtly played a role in stirring up racism towards the Travelling community in opposing Traveller accommodation in her constituency as a waste of valuable resources. This type of hate-based propaganda put out by individuals to boost their individual profile for electoral purposes or whatever is absolutely abhorrent. When Members talk about hate crime, let us start in here as well. Research from Pavee Point shows that 61% of Travellers have experienced discrimination in shops, pubs and restaurants, 62% in schools and 50% in public settings. Members must take account of this and include it as part of really dealing with hate. I believe recognising Traveller ethnicity probably would be a more practical way of doing it than this Bill.

At the outset, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this important issue and I acknowledge the Tánaiste's presence in the Chamber. It is ironic that Members are having this debate at all this evening because at the same time, a person is running to be President of America who believes it is okay to insult a massive number of people, that is, those of the Muslim faith. It beggars belief that in a modern, educated society, a person running for high office like that would think it is all right to target a group of people. I thought it was awful and wrong. It shows up some of the problems in society when an educated person like that would make such a statement because the Muslim people who have come to our country have contributed in a great, sound and solid fashion through their work, through having their children here and through being part of our society. The area from which I come was very fortunate over the past 30 years in particular, in that many people came from all over Europe to live, to work and to raise their children. I know of one national school not far from where I live that was being attended by young children of 12 or 13 different nationalities. Every child in that school benefited from being there because there was such a diversity of cultures, religions and educational backgrounds. It made for a great place of learning.

To turn to the Bill and what it is trying to achieve, people could be critical of it and could state it is not going far enough. Whenever one tries to do something, is it not a good thing that one at least is making a start? We live in an ever-changing world with problems that, because of changes in society, were never experienced in the past and with which our parents or grandparents never had to deal. One hears of the most awful things in the whole world happening with cyber-crimes and all that sort of thing. Those issues never existed before because it simply was not an issue. Legislation must be brought forward and there must be laws to assist people who have a different way of living and to make their lives safer and happier because life is very short for everybody. Our job as legislators is to try to ensure that people, no matter what type of people they are or what type of gender they are or in what way they wish to lead their lives, who want to live out their lives in a way that is different from what might be called the norm can do so in safety and happiness and free from any type of taunting, bullying or interference. An Garda Síochána must be supported and the Tánaiste, as Minister for Justice and Equality, must be supported in her endeavours to ensure the safety and well-being of all types of people, no matter what their particular persuasions.

I will return to the structure of schools and starting off in school. While they do this, it is extremely important that teachers try to make sure that from an early age, if there are differences in young people they are encouraged to be themselves, whatever that means, and are allowed to flourish and to be educated and that there is zero tolerance of any type of bullying. Our schools have come on a great deal and their principals and teachers must be commended on what they have done in respect of changes over the past 20 or 30 years because again, they have lived through an awful change in culture and in society in general and have been obliged to deal with the consequences of that within schools.

They must be strict about ensuring that young people, from an early age, learn that one cannot pick on people because of what they are or what they are like, and that one cannot bully people. Long ago there was no such thing as bullying in the way we know it today. Bullying can take on all sorts of different manifestations and one can be nasty to a person in underhanded ways, and our teachers and principals must try to watch out for that. If zero tolerance can start in school, hopefully, students in later life will behave properly and will not interfere with others.

Coming back to what happens on the Internet, I have grave concerns over the way people can go on the Internet and, using false identities, lure children and twist their minds with unreasonable behaviour. That is a big worry for parents. It is also a big worry for grandparents. Young people, with a telephone inside their pocket, can be subjected to all types of low behaviour by such people who would be out to abuse or mistreat them.

This raises the issue to a wider platform than what we are debating here, that is, the subject of how we will protect our young people from the dangers of the Internet and social media, which should not be tolerated. Members of this House have been victims of that type of loutish behaviour. The funny aspect of it is if one ever goes looking at the profile of those who go on the Internet insulting others one will see that it is done between the hours of 11 o'clock at night and 4 o'clock in the morning. I will tell the Minister that those people are not getting up at 6 o'clock or 7 o'clock the following morning, pulling up their trousers and going out to work. If they were going to work, they would not be up in the middle of the night insulting everybody, particularly women, and saying offensive things and displaying all that type of behaviour. They would not be able to be at it, if they were getting up and going out to work. It is easy for them to be fiddling with their fingers at 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock in the morning, and seeing who will they insult next. I believe the word for it is "trolling"; it is something like that.

We have that big problem to deal with and it merits a lot of debate. I do not know how it will be legislated for, but I know that it is in everybody's interests, particularly in the interests of impressionable youngsters and teenagers, that they be protected from the dangers and what is completely uncontrolled. Anybody can go on the Internet. They can hide with total privacy and lure people, and as I say, subject them to all types of badness. I would like to see that being addressed. I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me the opportunity to speak.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill before us this evening and I compliment my two colleagues, Deputies O'Loughlin and Murphy O'Mahony, for bringing it forward. This Bill essentially seeks to tackle hate crime in an effective and robust manner. It seeks to ensure that the option is open to the Garda and the Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue a hate crime conviction should such an offence have occurred.

Under the Bill, if somebody is convicted of an offence that is aggravated by prejudice or hatred, then that must be taken into account when sentencing. Ireland is currently out of step by not having a specific hate crime. Fianna Fáil firmly believes that such legislation is needed and there is an onus on us to make it clear that such hatred will not be tolerated in society.

I also compliment Deputy Murphy O'Mahony on the Bill as a positive step forward in enhancing and protecting the rights of persons with disability. It is hoped that the Bill will not only make hate crime based on disability an offence, but will also improve on the reporting and recording of hate crime, which is generally considered under reported.

Hate crime legislation is in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales and Fianna Fáil introduced this Bill to bring the legislation up to date. We are currently working off the Prohibition of Incitement to Racial Religious or National Hatred Act 1989. Under the Act, it is an offence to incite hatred against a particular group but it does not criminalise those who commit the crimes against the other groups, except under general legislation. We also must bear in mind how much Ireland has changed since that time. As the Immigrant Council of Ireland pointed out, it is two decades since immigration into Ireland commenced and it is time for laws to reflect such changes were put in place.

Ireland is behind the curve when it comes to having effective legislation in place to deal with hate crimes. Currently, we do not have specific hate crime laws. Fianna Fáil firmly believes that such legislation is needed and this will help make it clear.

Earlier I listened to the debate as I went through the House. I welcome the contributions of the Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and Deputy Jan O'Sullivan. We acknowledge the Bill is not perfect. If we get it to committee we will bring in the NGOs and we will all sit together around the table to make it a far stronger and robust Bill for all sectors of society.

I acknowledge what Deputy Jonathan O'Brien stated earlier. The Deputy found so many flaws in it. I hear what the Deputy is saying, that there is so much left out and he is correct. The Deputy stated it does not mention the Travelling community, but it does in the sense that people are targeted because of their sexual orientation, gender, including gender identity, race, religion, disability, age and ethnicity, including membership of the Traveller community. We must acknowledge that this is all about inclusion. Deputy O'Brien is saying it is a weak Bill and poor legislation. The Deputy referred to it as lazy legislation, and a regressive Bill. Surely the Deputy cannot see it as a regressive Bill when there was nothing there beforehand. It is our first step. When other groups in the House are acknowledging that it is the right step in the right direction, we must acknowledge that we will never change anything unless we start working together and bring in all groups and ethnic minorities to be part of it.

What is going on in communities is wrong. It is wrong that individuals are singled out. It is wrong that the Traveller community is treated so. It is wrong that Asians and the other groups are singled out. We must start protecting them and that is what Deputy Jonathan O'Brien and I, and all in this House, are elected to do. We are elected to be legislators. We are elected to bring Bills before the House. We are elected to discuss the Bill but then we also have a duty to bring them to committee to bring in all those who we represent around the table to discuss how we can strengthen the legislation.

There is no point in bringing Bills before the House unless we are prepared to see them through. Sometimes it is so easy to find fault with everything but it is far more constructive to work as a unit to represent the people Deputy Jonathan O'Brien and I represent. All of us who represent the people come from the various groups this seeks to address.

I agree completely.

I thank Deputy O'Brien.

Unfortunately, Fianna Fáil did not do that when it was in government.

With respect-----

Deputy Rabbitte without interruption.

-----what I am trying to say is the Bill that the Deputies have brought before the House is a positive step in the right direction of addressing hate crime. It is not a perfect Bill but I hope it will be by the time we all work together on it at Committee Stage. I hope Deputy Jonathan O'Brien and his party will come along with us to bring it through to Committee Stage. We owe it to the people who put us here because they need an input, they need their voices on this Bill and they need protection.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for allowing me the opportunity to speak.

I am thankful for this opportunity to contribute. I thank Deputies Margaret Murphy O'Mahony and Fiona O'Loughlin for bringing forward this Bill. It is important that we are having this debate today and I appreciate all the contributions made. Like the Tánaiste, I have issues with certain aspects of this Bill but overall I support the rationale and premise behind it.

The Government is firmly committed to combating and challenging all manifestations of prejudice - racism, homophobia, sexism or religious discrimination. Being the target of a crime for simply being who one is or for being perceived as different is completely unacceptable and must not be tolerated.

Irish society is changing and evolving into a diverse society every day. We need to ensure, where necessary, that we respect and protect all members and all vulnerable groups from any type of discrimination and particularly from hate crime. We have made great strides. We have looked after the LGBT people but we still have much work to do to ensure all sectors of society are protected from all types of irrational hatred and violence.

All crime has an impact on victims, particularly hate-motivated crimes, and it does not impact only on the victim but on all members of that particular group. It feeds feelings of rejection, loneliness and isolation and, in turn, that prompts reactions of alienation and counter-responses, and the cycle continues. We must bring our understanding and solidarity to these people. This is essential if we are to live together in diverse groups in our society as a whole.

A review of our approach to the integration of migrants, which was launched in 2014, provides the basis for a new and updated migrant integration strategy, which will be published soon. This will include a strong anti-racism component, with specific areas for action to promote intercultural awareness and to combat racism and xenophobia.

Hate crime and less serious levels of public harassment and insult, if not tackled adequately, reduce the safety of public spaces by creating an impression of impunity and public support for these crimes. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien mentioned some very heinous crimes. We are all aware of these in society and they can be very significant. Violent prejudice attacks the very cohesion and fabric of our society.

The Tánaiste mentioned that there is an ongoing review of Ireland's Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 and this is being done in light of reports by civil society, international obligations and changes in society, including the use of the Internet and social media. The wider issue of hate-based crime is also forming part of this review. The provisions of this Bill and this debate will also feed into this work. Having said that, I reiterate what the Tánaiste said earlier. It is a fact that the courts can and do take into account bias or prejudice motivation as an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing. I share the Tánaiste's concerns as to how some of these provisions would work in a practical sense, such as how the aggravation of the offence would be proved in court. I believe this will be difficult to demonstrate in practice.

Equally, as mentioned by other speakers, where we are legislating for certain bias motivation, as this Bill does, I believe consideration should be given at a minimum to including prejudice based on religious intolerance, gender or members of the Travelling community, as mentioned by many speakers. These are all groups protected under the Prohibition against Incitement to Hatred Act.

Last November An Garda Síochána extended recording of bias motivation indicators for hate-motivated incidents on the Garda PULSE system to include anti-Traveller and anti-Roma as well as anti-Muslim, transphobia, age related, gender related and disability related motivation indicators. These, in addition to the existing bias motivation indicators, which are anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, sectarianism and xenophobia, will enable more comprehensive collection of data when recording incidents, and this is very important. This more detailed recording will also form part of the victim assessment in accordance with the EU victims directive.

There is very much an awareness on the Government's part of the seriousness and the impact of hate crime and this debate reflects that awareness, although it must be said that the Tánaiste has expressed concerns about the import of this proposed Bill and she outlined her concerns about aspects of it, its effectiveness and the amendments it may require, and I share those views.

I thank the Deputies for bringing forward this Bill and I know they will be anxious to consider how best to address the policy and drafting issues raised in this debate, as another Deputy opposite said, as this Bill moves forward.

Ultimately, the reason we brought forward this Bill is to do with the type of society we live in. Our society is out of sync. The one word that is hugely important in any of the communities we represent is "respect", and that is respect for everybody in our communities and respect for everybody in society, including respect for different voices in the Dáil. It is not about taking cheap shots which, unfortunately, happened earlier.

In the Bill I put before the House we did not set out to exclude any particular group. I had understood, and obviously wrongly so, that the Traveller community was covered by the term ethnic minority. I point out, as this was questioned by Deputy Clare Daly, that Fianna Fáil absolutely supports the inclusion of the Traveller community being classified as an ethnic minority.

I thank the Minister for her comments and support. I agree there are aspects of the Bill which require further consideration. I made that very clear in our opening statement. I clarify that we will certainly give consideration to including other forms of prejudice. In a meeting with ENAR Ireland and Mr. Shane O'Curry on Thursday, we discussed these elements and that is why I was very clear, both earlier in discussion with members of the media and here this evening, that we have to include other areas such as, for example, gender fluidity.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien was completely wrong in saying that ENAR Ireland asked us several times to withdraw this Bill. It most certainly did not. I met with its representatives as recently as Thursday and I have an e-mail from Shane O'Curry, which I received today-----

I have an e-mail also.

-----the final paragraph of which reads:

The Deputies are again to be commended for seeking to address hate through the criminal law. We look forward to working with you in developing this issue further.

It is very unfair to say that we were asked to withdraw this Bill. I only became aware of this on Friday and only got a copy of the heads of the Bill that the former Minister, now Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, had put together. I accept it does go further than our Bill. I literally only received that on Friday. I was not aware of it before then. If I had received it prior to that, I accept that we would have made changes within this Bill. That is why it is important that we will have an opportunity in committee to have open and honest debate. I certainly would take on board aspects of that Bill.

Deputy O'Brien mentioned that we just copied and pasted this Bill from the Scottish legislation. That is completely untrue. We looked at the legislation in the UK and in Northern Ireland where his party has much more influence than it has in the Republic.


I ask Deputy O'Brien to desist. He was not interrupted.

I am sure it has had an influence in that regard.

I welcome the debate we have had. It is important that we have brought the Bill to the floor of the House. As Deputy Murphy O'Mahony and I have said, we are completely open to debating the Bill on Committee Stage. We accept there are flaws in what we put forward. I intend to put forward amendments to the Bill. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked about the research. We have the Out of the Shadows report. The Deputy is maintaining we did not have any consultation but we certainly did. I have the publications, Reports of Racism in Ireland, from which I took records, and A Life Free From Fear. I compliment the non-governmental organisations and the 60 organisations that have put a great deal of work into this. I engaged with a certain number of NGOs and I accept that I should have engaged with more. We have put this Bill on the floor of the House and it needs to be debated.

All members of the Dáil have to have the opportunity to put their ideas and suggestions forward. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony and I are coming with open hands to say we want to hear what Members have to say. We have done service to the Dáil and to the people we represent by starting this discussion. I apologise for leaving certain minorities out. It was not what we intended to do. I have a list of amendments here that I wish to table so I hope Members of the House will see the Bill is worthy of going to Committee Stage. We will be able to debate it further and bring in the other NGOs with which I have already started to engage at a higher level. I look forward to that opportunity.

Question put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 6 October 2016.

The Dáil adjourned at 9.35 p.m. until 12 noon on Wednesday, 5 October 2016.