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Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Discriminatory legislation is generally not present in Irish legal system, with the exception of, perhaps, the Defamation Act (2009), which includes blasphemy as a punishable offence. Such offence is punishable by a fine of up to 25 000 euros.

Indeed, Ireland’s Court Service has just five recorded convictions of hate crime from 1989 to 2017. Furthermore, in March 2017, this was highlighted by experts in hate crime who appeared before the Oireachtascalling for the introduction of hate crime legislation “as a matter of urgency”.

A Private Members’ Bill was introduced at the time by FiannaFáil TD, Fiona O’Loughlin, calling for all political parties to support the introduction of the law- making it a criminal offence to attack individuals based on their race, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Previous attempts by O’Loughlin have got to the second stage in the lower house of the Irish Parliament(DáilÉireann) and no further. A report in the same month by the anti-racism NGO, European Network Against Racism (ENAR) Ireland, found (alleged) racist criminal offences were up by 25% on the previous six months (161 reported incidences in January-June 2017 versus 140 in July-December 2016)

On October 26, 2018, a constitutional referendum was held on the issue of excluding the “blasphemous” norm from the constitution. The referendum was to be held in 2015 on the recommendation of the Constitutional Assembly. However, on January 13, 2015, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated that the planned referendum would not be held during the lifetime of the current government. However, in a 2018 referendum, a majority voted to remove the "blasphemy" clause from the country's constitution, meaning that the "blasphemy" lines would also be removed from the Defamation Law. In announcing the referendum, Justice and Equality Minister Charlie Flanagan, who introduced the proposal, said it was "an important step" for Ireland's international reputation. On January 17, 2020, the decision entered into force.

Ireland would benefit from revisiting its existing legal framework to ensure that bias motivations are effectively recognized and that perpetrators are punished accordingly.

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