Hate crimes - Failing to reach public record

Compelling proof that hate crime legislation is badly needed has emerged because, ironically, it seldom reaches the official records. A new report shows that only 47 incidents were recorded in the first six months of the year.

Frankly, it defies credulity that racist, homophobic, and anti-semetic cases continue to be as low as reported in 2013, when there were only 111 incidents in the whole year and 118 in 2012. Arguably, what the CSO has unwittingly exposed in its trawl of Garda records goes to the heart of a yawning gulf between the record and the stark reality.

Given the barrage of harassment that some individuals have to endure, especially at pub closing time, the only plausible explanation for this bizarre anomaly is that, among Western democracies, Ireland is the only nation which does not specifically classify hate crime as such. In other words, the legislators bury their collective heads deep in the convenient sands of ignorance. According to CSO statistics to the end of June, Ireland had only 40 racially motivated incidents, six homophonic, and one anti-semetic complaint.

Only those living in the dark ages would disagree with Jennifer Schweppe of Limerick University, who wants nine areas already set down in the State’s equality laws, including disability, to be covered by hate crime legislation. Only when it becomes a criminal offence will hate crime be recorded. It is long overdue.


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