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Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings Supreme Court of Ireland

On August 28, 2014, Ireland instituted a Commission for Human Rights and Equality. The Commission will constitute of 12-15 people appointed by the president for the term of no more than 5 years. Human Rights and Equality Commission will engage in facilitating respect towards human rights and equality, organise corresponding promotional events, anti-discrimination projects and facilitate integration. It will also consider cases of discrimination of various groups and will have the right to appeal to court on their behalf. The Commission will prepare reports and recommendations for the government and advise the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, Ireland practically lacks criminal legislation regarding hate crime. On June 18th, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) also deplored the lack of hate crime legislation in the country, which had given Irish society a “permission to hate”. The warning came as TENI released a new report which documented 32 incidents of violence or discrimination against transgender persons. Ministry of Justice and Equality is engaged in protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.

Cases related to discrimination are considered by the Tribunal for Equality in the Workplace, the decisions of which are compulsory. Statute of limitations for such cases is 12 months. The decision of the court could be appealed in a regional court. Victims of discrimination may be compensated with up to two year’s worth of wage. In addition, the accused party may be fined for up to 25 000 euros, or imprisoned for up to 2 years. In 2000, Irish police set up a department for national and cultural diversity, which is responsible for coordinating and advising in all aspects of police work. Since 2002, police started appointing special liaisons with minority communities to gather information about hate crime and discrimination and support victims of such crime.

However, due to negative attitudes among the police officers towards minorities, victims of hate crime rarely report such offences to the authorities. In addition, police sometimes misidentifies racist incidents and is reluctant to consider victims’ reports. For example, police are not considering reports of attacks on the Travellers community as hate crimes.

iReport.ie says that 5 out of 6 witnesses of xenophobic incidents are reluctant to appeal to the police or other authorities. One of the reasons is the excessively bureaucratic system of application.

According to ENAR, police received only 87 reports of xenophobic incidents (out of approximately 400). Only 19 cases have been given a positive response; 42 – negative and 16 – neutral. Another 10 cases got no response at all.

Police is not treating race crime in accordance to the normative acts. Department for Race Crime is not fully set up.

It has been revealed on July 21 that ethnic minority applications to join the police force in Ireland are down to 2.3%, compared with almost 15% 9 years ago. Critics say this suggests a deterioration in the relationship between Garda and some ethnic minority communities, which means people from those communities are less willing to apply.

Minorities remain underrepresented in the executive bodies – less than 1% (given that 15% of the population are ethnic minorities). Out of 1627 seats in regional parliaments, only 4 are occupied by ethnic minorities.

On January 21, two Irishmen have been found guilty of racial abuse of the former professional football player Andy Cole during a Manchester-bound flight from Dublin. Also on January 21, a Lithuanian worker who had been fired from her workplace for reporting racist abuse by a costumer, has been awarded a compensation of 34,000 Euros by the Employment Equality Tribunal. While working at a supermarket, Kristina Kukstaite had been verbally abused twice by a customer, whom she reported to the Gardai. Her employer fired her for notifying the police.

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