Irish Govt pledges to amend hate crime Bill after ‘listening to concerns’

The Irish Government is set to amend its controversial ‘hate speech’ Bill, following widespread criticism.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee refused to withdraw the proposals, but said: “I’m listening to and I’m engaging with colleagues. Where issues and concerns have been raised. I’m taking them on board with a number of amendments that have been developed”.

The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill, which is being considered by the Seanad, is set to significantly expand and replace existing hate crime legislation in Ireland. It includes a new offence of inciting hatred against others based on their protected characteristics, which carries a possible five-year prison sentence.


New Fine Gael leader Simon Harris, who is due to take over from Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach, said: “If we’ve learned anything from the referendum, I think politicians should approach all of these issues with humility, and listen to people and the concerns that they are raising.”

Former Justice Minister Charles Flanagan TD urged the party to ditch “the ill-defined Hate Bill” and prioritise “housing, health, and law and order”.

Flanagan said: “We saw during the recent referendum that absence of definitions and lack of clarity can be problematic. The Bill should be brought back to the drawing board.”

‘Woke agenda’

In a dramatic U-turn, Sinn Féin has also withdrawn its support for the legislation despite voting in favour of the proposals last year.

In a statement, the party’s Justice Spokesman Pa Daly said: “Government must scrap their Hate Speech legislation. It is abundantly clear that this legislation has been badly thought through and is not fit for purpose. It must not proceed.”

Sinn Féin said it became opposed to the Bill last June, although commentator Niamh Ui Bhriain claimed that following the recent referendums parties are “worrying that the rush to offer blind commitment to a woke agenda is now harming them in unexpected ways”.

‘Get back to basics’

Last month, Ireland’s former Minister for Defence called for the Bill to be ditched as he criticised his own party for “playing to the woke gallery”.

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea urged his party, which is in coalition with Fine Gael and the Greens, “to get back to basics & abandon the Hate Speech Bill etc. Focus on Housing, Health and Law & Order and stop playing to the woke gallery”.

Mr O’Dea made the comments in the wake of landslide defeats for the coalition’s plans to change the Irish Constitution to downgrade marriage and motherhood.

The family amendment, promoting “durable relationships” as equal to marriage, was rejected by 67.69% of voters, and 73.93% of people voted down the care amendment on ending the State’s commitment to stay-at-home mums.

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