Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (696)

Carol Nolan

Question:

696. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice if she will provide the report on her Department’s review of the legislation on hate speech; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37839/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Incitement to hatred is a criminal offence under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. The Act is currently under review and the Programme for Government commits to introducing, within 12 months, legislation to address those who target victims because of their association with a particular identity characteristic, and to revise and update the Incitement to Hatred Act. My Department is working to prepare this legislation on hate crime and hate speech as a priority.

As part of this work a comprehensive public consultation has been undertaken, to ensure that the Department fully understands the lived experience of those impacted by hate speech and hate crime as well as the views of professionals and other stakeholders in the field. This is necessary to ensure the laws developed are robust, clearly understood and effective in dealing with unacceptable incidents.

I am pleased with the high level of engagement with this important topic and can inform the Deputy that my Department received in the region of 3,800 written responses to the consultation, including approximately 175 detailed written submissions.

In addition to this comprehensive consultation and in order to ensure that the final legislation can be effective, my Department also carried out comparative research on international best practice on hate crime legislation.

The report on the public consultation and the comparative research is being finalised and I expect to publish it very shortly.

It is important to ensure that the legislative proposals presented are evidence-based, proportionate and effective, while respecting important rights to freedom of expression and association. There will be a further opportunity for stakeholders to share their views when the legislative proposals on this important issue are published for discussion.

I am confident that the approach taken to the reform of our legislation in this area - including through the research conducted and providing the opportunity for experts and members of the public to provide their views through consultation - will ensure that the legislation we develop plays a significant part in delivering a safer, fairer and more inclusive Ireland for everyone, now as well as into the future.