100. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the proposed timeframe for and the details of the review of the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act 1989; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38110/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Government is committed to ensuring that the legislative tools are in place to address racism and xenophobia in all forms. Equality and protection of minorities form important components of the work of the Department of Justice and Equality, and Minister Stanton and I want to ensure that Ireland is a safe and secure country for all.
There is a wide body of criminal law which is used to combat racism and xenophobia. Where criminal offences such as assault, criminal damage, or public order offences are committed with a racist motive, they are prosecuted as generic offences through the wider criminal law. The trial judge can take aggravating factors, including racist motivation, into account at sentencing.
The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 also creates offences of incitement to hatred on account of race, religion, nationality, ethnic or sexual orientation. Under the provisions of the Act, it is an offence to use words, behave, publish or distribute written material, or broadcast any visual images or sounds which are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended, or are likely, to stir up hatred. “Hatred” is defined as “hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation.”
My Department is currently engaging in a review of the provisions of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. The review is ongoing and will take into account the views of all interested parties, and I would welcome any views the Deputy or other colleagues in the House would have in this regard. Important research into the issue of hate crimes in Ireland has been carried out by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the University of Limerick, and the findings and recommendations arising from their recent report on hate crimes will be given careful consideration in the context of the review.