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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.

Reports in July 2017 suggest that (since the lifting of a recruitment freeze in 2014) there had been no new officers employed from anAfrican or Caribbeanbackground in the national Garda. On the back of this calls were made for greater ethnic diversity to be included in the remit of a new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. The Commission now has included investigations into diversity within its terms of reference and will report in September 2018.

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.

In Ireland, there is a public infrastructure that is designed to provide services to society to combat discrimination. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an statutory body established to provide the public with information on human rights and equality legislation that promotes equality and seeks to end discriminatory practices. It may, at its discretion, provide legal assistance to persons wishing to bring an action before the Equality Tribunal. There is also an Industrial Relations Commission, which is the place to file a discrimination claim under the Employment Equity Acts 1998-2015. It investigates or mediates allegations of unlawful discrimination under equality legislation.

An important point was that since March 2017, the Irish government began to consider the Irish nomads Pavie as an ethnic group. This decision was significant as it became a symbol of the state's recognition of their unique culture and customs.

Since 1999, the Irish Police Force (An Garda Síochána) has been using the Garda Pulse electronic system, which not only contains a database that records and stores information relating to investigations, public relations, complaints and other data, but also contains certain criteria , which help the police to identify certain crimes, incl. hate crimes. In 2016, 11 additional categories were added to the system to identify different types of hate crimes in Ireland, which was a welcome development.

In October 2019, An Garda Síochána launched the Garda Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021. The strategy aims to further improve the detection, reporting, recording, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. It contains a working definition of hate crime (attached) that is in line with international best practice and the McPherson "perception test". It also recognizes the current and emerging diversity of our communities and aims to protect all the diverse groups and minorities in society. The strategy contains numerous initiatives and commitments to increase public confidence in hate crime reporting, such as online postings, third party referrals, diversity consultation days, raising intercultural awareness, and creating a national diversity forum.

From October 2020, the An Garda Síochána PULSE system allows the recording of non-criminal hate incidents that are registered with one or more discriminatory motives (bias motives) in accordance with the new working definition of hate crime. Policies and procedures for responding to hate crimes and non-criminal hate incidents have been developed and are supported by concise guidance documents on recording hate crimes. Garda Síochána has also formalized third party reporting through a "Third Party Referral Agreement" to allow NGOs and CSOs to refer hate crime cases directly to the Garda National Diversity and Inclusion unit, which investigates each complaint and takes action. In July 2021, Garda Síochána launched an online hate crime reporting system, supported by the publication of a hate crime information leaflet in 19 languages. The internal communications plan and public campaign were also carried out with extensive media coverage.

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