412. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will introduce hate crime legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49654/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, it is an offence, inter alia, to use words, publish or distribute written material, or broadcast any visual images or sounds which are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended, or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred. The word "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".
In addition to the foregoing legislation, where criminal offences such as assault, criminal damage, or public order offences are committed with a racist motive, they are prosecuted as generic offences though the wider criminal law. The trial judge can take aggravating factors, including racial motivation, into account at sentencing.
A cross-Departmental review of Ireland’s Integration Strategy, including measures to address racism, is currently being led by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration which is part of my Department.
As well as the cross-Departmental review, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality is also looking at the area of integration, multiculturalism and combating racism.
I will consider the introduction of legislative proposals on hate crime in the context of the outcome of these reviews.