Waterford’s racist mob highlights “urgent” need for hate law reform says ICCL

  • 28-10-2014
  • Categorized in: Justice

Waterford’s racist mob highlights “urgent” need for hate law reform says ICCL

Irish Council for Civil Liberties press release

Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

Last weekend’s violent behaviour by a racist mob in Waterford highlights the urgent need for effective laws to combat hate crime, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said in a statement today (Tuesday 28 October). The rights watchdog’s comments came following last weekend’s widely-reported incidents of threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour against members of Waterford’s Roma Community, culminating in violence that drove several Roma families from their homes.

Speaking today, ICCL Director Mark Kelly said:

“The vast majority of law-abiding people in Waterford will be appalled by the criminal behaviour exhibited by a racist mob on the streets of their city last weekend. Unlawful violence of this nature calls for political condemnation and should also be recognised and severely punished as hate crime.”

“Ireland’s laws on hate crime and incitement to hatred urgently need to be updated and the ICCL has commissioned a major study by the Hate and Hostility Research Group at the University of Limerick into the requirements for legislative reform of Ireland’s existing laws on hate crime, looking at the shortcomings in how hate crimes, including racist and anti-Roma hate crimes, are currently prosecuted. The research will include recommendations for a robust and workable framework for law reform in this area”.

The Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG) team undertaking the research is being led by Ms Jennifer Schweppe and Dr Amanda Haynes of the University of Limerick. Speaking on behalf of the HHRG, Ms Schweppe said:

“Unlike Northern Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales, Ireland does not currently have a workable legislative solution to tackling hate crime or hate speech. Hate crimes have a ripple effect, spreading fear beyond the direct victim and into the wider community. With our NGO partners and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, we are developing a robust solution to tackling hate crime. The legislature must send a clear and precise message that prejudiced or biased attacks on members of our community are unacceptable.”

Tomorrow, (Wednesday, 29 October 2014), members of the NGO Working Group on Hate Crime will meet with Minister of State for Equality, New Communities and Culture, Mr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD at a roundtable event hosted by the University of Limerick to discuss new approaches to tackling hate crime in Ireland including the need for legislation to combat hate crime through the criminal law.

Speaking ahead of the NGO Working Group roundtable event, Minister of State Ó Ríordáin said:

“Last weekend’s events in Waterford must be condemned for what they were – cowardly and racist. Waterford is a beautiful city and deserves a much better reputation.” 

ENDS

Contact:

Walter Jayawardene

Communications Manager

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Tel. + 353 1 799 4503

Mob: +353 87 9981574   

walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

 


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