Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality Fiona O’Loughlin says a new Bill, which she introduced in the Dáil during the week, will help prevent hate crimes from occurring.
If enacted the ‘Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016’ will make provision for aggravation by prejudice relating to the race, colour, ethnic origin, a disability, sexual orientation or transgender identify of a person.
The Bill is being sponsored by Deputy O’Loughlin and FF Disability Spokesperson, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.
Deputy O’Loughlin said, “This Bill essentially seeks to tackle hate crimes in an effective and robust manner. It will ensure that the option is open to the Gardai and Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue a hate crime conviction should such an offence have occurred.
“Under this Bill, if someone is convicted of an offence that is aggravated by prejudice or hatred, then that must be taken into account when sentencing.
“Ireland is behind the curve when it comes to having effective legislation in place to deal with hate crimes. Currently we do not have specific hate crime laws. I firmly believe that such legislation is needed. This will help make it clear that such hatred will not be tolerated in our society.
“Similar legislation is in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. I have introduced this Bill to help bring our legislation up to date. Figures made available by the Central Statistics Office show that there were 113 hate crimes recorded in 2013. We have a very real problem with hate crime and it is time we took action to combat this,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin, who formally introduced the Bill in the Dáil on Thursday.