Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (19)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

19. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice the progress made to date in the introduction of legislation to tackle hate crime. [22853/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter. 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 and I can assure Deputies that 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 carried out which included a public survey and an opportunity for stakeholders to make formal submissions. This consultation was conducted 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 by the public 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 that is effective, my Department also carried out comparative research on international best practice on hate crime legislation. This research is currently being finalised and I expect to publish it in the coming weeks.

My officials are continuing to analyse all of the materials gathered, as well as other relevant legal and policy information, to ensure that the legislative proposals presented are evidence-based, proportionate and effective, while respecting freedom of expression. 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. This is the mission of my Department and as Minister I am fully committed to the combatting racism and prejudice as a key part of this.