Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South Fiona O’Loughlin says the highly publicised case of a young woman being racially abused on social media highlights the need for tougher action to be taken against those that engage in hate speech.

Deputy O’Loughlin said, “Yesterday we saw a disturbing situation unfold where a young woman was racially abused on social media for hours on end as she attempted to showcase her positive experience of living in Ireland. The abuse highlighted that there is a small section of society that are intent on spewing offensive hatred commentary, and this is something which needs to be tackled.

“I’ve met with a number of different groups since being appointed Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality. One of the things that quickly became evident is the need for a co-ordinated effort by Government to tackle hate speech. This is why I brought forward comprehensive legislation which will help prevent hate crimes from occurring.

“The ‘Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice Bill 2016’ 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. Ireland is well behind the curve when it comes to having legislation in place to deal with hate crimes. Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales all have similar legislation in place. It’s time Ireland followed suit,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.