Irish hate crime law won't criminalise opinions, Justice Minister states

Addressing concerns surrounding the hate speech and hate crime bill, McEntee highlighted its importance in protecting vulnerable communities.

The picture shows Justice Minister McEntee, legislator of the hate speech bill and hate crime bill.
Image: Via Instagram: @helenmcentee

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has defended Ireland’s hate crime and hate speech bill amid concerns from opposition.

On Thursday, April 11, Minister McEntee appeared on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland to speak about the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill, originally drafted in 2022 under Leo Varadkar’s government. The Minister clarified some aspects of the text, which she strongly defended as they aim to strengthen protection from hate crimes and modernise Ireland’s current laws on the matter.

McEntee answered concerns raised among TDs surrounding the legislation, mainly about freedom of speech. On Morning Ireland, the Minister said she understood the concerns, but clarified that no opinions will be criminalised, adding that the bill will be revised and amended as it moves forward.

Minister McEntee also highlighted how essential it is for Ireland to have such legislation to protect those vulnerable to hatred: “My job as Minister for Justice is to make sure that people who commit crimes serve the appropriate sentences, and that in turn protects vulnerable people.

“But again, this is about making sure where people are committing crimes that there is a punishment there for them and I think everybody agrees with that objective,” she stated on the show.

Pointing out the importance of the hate speech and crime bill, McEntee underlined the existence of such legislation in Ireland since 2019, as well as in other countries where the freedom of speech was not impacted: “Whether it’s Scotland or the UK or any other country where they already have these laws, people are not being locked up en masse.”


The Minister here refers notably to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act which recently came into effect. It aims to consolidate existing laws on hate crimes and strengthen protection for vulnerable individuals targeted based on race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex.

“I mean, this idea that people’s opinions are going to be criminalised, it’s not true. It hasn’t transpired in other countries. It hasn’t transpired here,” she told Morning Ireland.

The Minister’s comments come after Taoiseach Simon Harris similarly opposed demands from Sinn Féin party leaders to scrap the hate crime and hate speech bill, and said he expects revisions as it moves forward: “I absolutely know that that’s what my colleague and friend Minister (Helen) McEntee is doing.

It is what she said she would do and therefore, I would expect revisions certainly and amendments in relation to legislation,” he said.

The ongoing debates surrounding the hate speech bill have sparked concerns in society groups, including the National LGBT Federation (NXF). Activists have stressed the need for such a bill and are worried by demands from the opposition to scrap or abandon the legislation.


© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.