Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (441)

Finian McGrath


441. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will review the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 in order to introduce provisions to deal with racist crimes including definitions of racial hatred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24521/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is important not to confuse legislation to combat incitement to hatred and the wider legislative framework to combat racist crimes.

The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 cannot and was never intended to deal with the entirety of racist crime. It only addresses incitement to hatred. The word "hatred" is defined in the Act as "hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation".

Where other criminal offences such as assault, criminal damage, or public order offences are committed with a racist motive, they are prosecuted as generic offences through the wider criminal law. The trial judge can take aggravating factors, including racist motivation, into account at sentencing.

A cross-Departmental review of Ireland’s Integration Strategy, including measures to address racism, is being led by my Department's Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration. In addition, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality is doing work on integration, multiculturalism and combating racism. The issue of strengthening the law to combat racism will be considered in the context of the outcome of these reviews.