Widespread solidarity with Dublin Lord Mayor after racist abuse

Calls are growing to expedite new hate crime laws after Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Dublin, was intimidated at her home.
Widespread solidarity with Dublin Lord Mayor after racist abuse

Lord Mayor Hazel Chu with partner Patrick Costello and their daughter Alex. File Picture.

There have been calls to expedite new hate crime laws after the Lord Mayor of Dublin was intimidated at her home.

Ms Chu was intimidated and harassed on Thursday after a small protest took place outside the Mansion House in Dublin. One woman was arrested and fined for breaching public health guidelines.

There was widespread solidarity with Ms Chu and her partner, Green TD Patrick Costello after the story was broken in the Irish Examiner, which detailed the months of  abuse against the couple, much of it racist, and some of which has targeted their young daughter.

Politicians from across the spectrum spoke out about the intimidation faced by the couple and warned against complacency when it comes to racist and targetted abuse of public representatives.

Green Party Ministers Eamon Ryan and Roderic O'Gorman both tweeted their support of Ms Chu.

Mr Ryan said it was: "Utterly unacceptable that such intimidation is being targeted at our Lord Mayor."

Mr O'Gorman said: "Nobody should ever have to endure this kind of abuse and fear for their family. Racism must be challenged."

Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee said that Ms Chu was "so right when she reminds us of the shocking murder of Jo Cox". 

"We cannot be sure it won’t happen here," Ms Clifford-Lee added.

We need to stamp out threats, intimidation, harassment and abusive language because it can have devastating real-life consequences.

'Ineffective legislation'

Justice Minister Helen McEntee intends to bring the Heads of a Bill to Cabinet by Easter for new incitement to hatred and hate crime legislation, but some say the law must be expedited.

Dr Lucy Michael from Fingal Communities Against Racism says the current incitement to hatred legislation "is entirely ineffective".

"We need hate speech laws that align with European law, which allow freedom of expression but legislate against the worst kinds of speech," she said.

"It's well-practiced and trialed throughout Europe and my understanding is the bill currently being developed will follow that.

Ireland is well behind in not having any of these laws and we need to catch up.

"To prosecute under hate crime legislation, courts would take into account demonstrated hostility. At the moment, they don't have to do that at all.

"It would not criminalise calling someone a bad name but allow for bias to be taken into account along with something that is already a crime, an attack for example."

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