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Ireland is Failing to Meet Hate Crime Obligations

Ireland is failing to meet its obligations in relation to hate crime, according to a new report conducted by researchers based at the University of Limerick. 

Presenting the report’s findings at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, the Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG) at UL, led by Dr Jennifer Schweppe and Dr Amanda Haynes said that a majority of previous recommendations by the committee have not been implemented by the Irish State.

Dr Sindy Joyce, who also took part in the research said, ‘‘Ireland, and its police, are wilfully ignoring racial profiling, which is highlighted in the fact that children as young as four years of age were entered onto the Garda Pulse system and given criminal tag numbers.’’

The report examined four specific issues and presented findings and summary recommendations for each. 

The first issue was related to The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. The researchers found that was unclear how many convictions there have been under the act, that civil society organisations, academics and practitioners have described the act as ineffective and that the Irish Law Reform Commission considers the Act to be ineffectual in combating online hate speech.

The second issue related to hate crime. The data collected showed a majority of hate crime in Ireland isn’t reported to the police and is often disappeared through the criminal process due to a lack of training and the absence of legislation. 

The third issue related to racial profiling with no clear statement in the law regarding the illegality of racial profiling. 

The final issue examined training in the criminal justice process and showed that there are only 247 Ethnic Liaison Officers(ELOS) available, and the new Garda Diversity and Inclusion Strategy omits any reference or commitment to the role. Research has also found significant failings in the training available to ELOS and Gardai and there has been no relevant judicial training. 

The report makes a series of recommendations which includes publishing the outcomes of the Department of Justice and Equality’s review of the 1989 act ‘’as a matter of urgency’’ and providing training across the criminal justice sector. 

‘’The State has had hate crime and hate speech under review for nearly two decades, without action’’, explained Dr Jennifer Schweppe. ‘’ The Committee has chosen hate crime and incitement to hatred as two issues it specifically wants the state to address and we look forward to having a discussion with the committee on these issues.’’

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