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UL Study Finds Hate Crime Must ‘Come out of Shadows’

Jennifer Schweppe and Amanda Haynes Jennifer Schweppe and Amanda Haynes

Hate crime in Ireland is widespread, yet “remains in the shadows” of our criminal justice system, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said, as it launched research commissioned from researchers at the University of Limerick’s Hate and Hostility Research Group.

Speaking on Monday 13th July at the launch of “Out of the Shadows: Legislating for Hate Crime in Ireland”, ICCL Executive Director Mark Kelly said:

"This report, a result of Ireland’s only cross-sectoral research project dedicated to the reform of Irish hate crime law, is based on wide-ranging interviews with victims of hate crime, members of the Garda Síochána and legal professionals, and on detailed review of international best practice on tackling hate crime. It concludes that there is an urgent need to tackle the problem through introduction of robust modern legislation that creates dedicated criminal offences and enhanced sentencing for hate-motivated crime, and introduces better reporting and recording of incidents of hate crime."

The report authors Jennifer Schweppe, School of Law at UL and Dr Amanda Haynes, Department of Sociology at UL interviewed hate crime victims, members of An Garda Síochána, representatives of civil society organisations and legal experts as well as 36 barristers.  They found a consensus that hate crime was underreported and under-recorded.

Co-director of the University of Limerick Hate and Hostility Research Group Jennifer Schweppe added, “While the state claims that hate crime is being adequately addressed, our research shows that in fact it lives in the shadows, largely invisible in the criminal justice process. There has been a system-wide failure to recognise the harms of hate and to provide victims with appropriate protection under the law.”

Dr Amanda Haynes concluded, “The experiences of those we interviewed – hate-motivated assaults, vandalism, property damage and threats - are simply unacceptable. It is not the responsibility of victims to avoid being targets of hate crime; it is the responsibility of the legislature to send a clear message to society that this behaviour is not tolerated. By adopting our legislative proposals, the government can do just this.”

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is Ireland’s leading independent human rights watchdog, which monitors, educates and campaigns in order to secure full enjoyment of human rights for everyone.