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Question

59. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to the latest six month ENAR Ireland report representing a higher level of reporting than the previous six-month period of racist incidences and racist crime; her plans to progress with hate crime legislation in view of this report and of the increase in hate crime rhetoric surrounding recent elections across the globe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40301/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I would like to assure the Deputy that any level of racist incidents and particularly racist crime are a matter of concern and An Garda Síochána monitors this type of crime very carefully. It is of course essential that anyone with information in relation to hate crimes provides full details to An Garda Síochána.
The Garda Racial Intercultural and Diversity Office (GRIDO) has responsibility for co-ordinating, monitoring and advising on all aspects of policing Ireland's diverse communities. GRIDO monitors the reporting and recording of hate and racist crime on a continual basis. Garda Ethnic Liaison Officers (ELOs) are appointed to work with minority communities at local level throughout the country. These officers combined with GRIDO play a fundamental role in liaising with minority groups and work in partnership to encourage tolerance, respect and understanding within communities in the pursuit of preventing the commission of hate and racist crime. GRIDO and ELOs provide advice and assistance to victims of hate or racist crime where required or deemed necessary.
Where a criminal offence such as assault, criminal damage or a public order offence is committed against a person based on their race, religion, colour, ethnicity or some other ground, the offence is prosecuted through the wider criminal law. It is also accepted that such an offence is more serious on account of the hate or prejudice motivating the crime and Irish courts do consider evidence of a crime being motivated by hate or prejudice as an aggravating factor at sentencing.
That said, I have requested that this area of the criminal law be examined with a view to considering whether further legislative proposals are needed to strengthen the law.
I would also like to inform the Deputy that the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, an office of my Department, is the focal point for the Government's commitment on anti-racism as a key aspect of integration, diversity management and broader national social policy. The Office continues to work with all the relevant sectors to further progress the integration and diversity management agenda.
A review of our approach to the integration of migrants has almost neared completion. This review will provide the basis for a new and updated migrant integration strategy. Work on the Integration Strategy is very advanced and is expected to be published early in the New Year. I expect that the Integration Strategy, when published, will include a strong anti-racism component.