Irish hate offences bill reportedly delayed until autumn, sources say

"Authoritative sources" have revealed that the hate speech bill will likely not return to the Seaned ahead of upcoming general elections.

This aritcle is about Ireland's hate offences bill. The image shows a cardboard sign that reads
Image: Alexandros Michailidis via Shutterstock

The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill was originally proposed in 2022 in an attempt to provide legal protections against hate crime and hate speech in Ireland. However, the Bill has been paused in the Seanad for nearly a year, as senators debate the legislation’s verbiage. 

Now, The Irish Times is reporting that “authoritative sources” in government have confirmed that the Bill is unlikely to return to the Oireachtas before the end of the summer, potentially meaning that it will not be passed before the upcoming general election.

While government leaders have reported that the current Coalition intends to remain in office until March 2025, it is possible that it will dissolve early, leading to a general election as early as this autumn, leaving little time left for hate speech legislation to find its way onto the Seanad floor beforehand. 

The proposed legislation would, if passed, attempt to introduce harsher sentencing for crimes perpetrated against people on the basis of their “protected characteristic”, be it age, gender, race, colour, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, as well as attempting to update the existing incitement to hatred legislation to ease prosecution processes. 

The government has recently shared that it intends to amend the Bill following stalling in the Seanad, with Taoiseach Simon Harris and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee claiming that they would like to see the legislation through to fruition. 

Despite these claims, however, The Irish Times reports that, according to “senior sources” in government, the hate crime pieces of the Bill may be separated and pushed through while the hate speech portions of the Bill are “parked for future consideration”. 

The only official comment from the Department of Justice regarding the status of the hate offences legislation at the moment is that the Bill is a “priority” for Minister McEntee, who intends to bring it back to the Seanad “in due course”. 

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