A person who is proven to have committed a crime aggravated by hatred will now face up to double the sentence than for ordinary forms of crime, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Dún Laoghaire Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said: “For the first time in the history of our State, it will now become a new criminal offence to commit a crime based on prejudice against a person’s gender, including their gender expression or identity, disability or their ethnic or national origin.
“The Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 is a landmark bill, with the new form of criminal offences being the first of their kind in Ireland, and I want to thank Minister McEntee for her work on this to date.
“When we look at this Bill, we are not talking about the criminalisation of ‘giving offence’. In fact, the criteria of the Bill are designed in such a way that ‘giving offence’ will not be criminalised.
“This is also not about limiting our constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression.
“It is, however, about penalising hate crimes and the incitement of hatred. It’s about addressing hate in Irish society where it has no place. Hate that we have seen causes divisions, anxiety and hurt over and over.
“This Bill is a nuanced piece of legislation in that it will ensure a person has acted with intent, or recklessness, to incite hatred, before a conviction is made.
“The concept of a person’s motivation really comes into play here, as crimes which are found to have been aggravated by hate will carry additional penalties. For example, harassment motivated by hatred based on a person’s sexuality will now be a more serious offence than ordinary harassment, and it will be charged as a new offence from the outset,” added Deputy Carroll MacNeill.
The Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 updates the protected characteristics under Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, to include gender expression or identity, disability and Traveller ethnicity.
“I am delighted to see that Traveller ethnicity will be recognised on the same basis as other ethnic origins.
“From my work with Pavee Point, I know that members of the Traveller community can be often subjected to incidents of hate speech and prejudice, and it’s long overdue that we tackle this issue through our legislative powers,” Deputy Carroll MacNeill concluded.