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Fianna Fáil Hate Crime Bill “a frightening example of lazy legislating” - Jonathan O’Brien TD

4 October, 2016 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

 Sinn Féin Justice & Equality Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD has described the Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016, put forward by Fianna Fáil as “ a frightening example of lazy legislating.”

He added that that Fianna Fáil had actually marginalised more groups than they have protected with the proposed legislation and that Sinn Féin could not support the Bill because of its numerous deficiencies.

Speaking during the Private Members Debate on the Bill this evening in the Dáil, Deputy O’Brien said;

“It is not just Sinn Féin that are unhappy with this Bill, but a number of interest groups, human rights groups, NGO’s and even some trade unions have previously called on this Bill to be completely rejected as it is so fundamentally flawed that is beyond saving by amendments at committee stage.

“I must say, I am also dismayed at the apparent lack of consultation that Fianna Fáil had with the relevant interest groups.  

 “There are two clear examples. 

 “There is absolutely no protection against prejudiced attacks given in any capacity to those from religious minorities.  

“I also must state that the Bill has fallen short of protecting a number of sub-groups within the LGBTQ community.  

“Specifically, there is no mention in this legislation of protection being offered to people on the basis of their gender identity and gender expression.  

“When any legislation is being drafted or indeed thought of, the first port of call should be those who are most affected by the laws.  

“Those who campaign daily on this issue and indeed those who are most affected by these issues and in need of the protection a Bill like this should offer them were never afforded an opportunity to inform you during the development of this bill.  

“Had that happened, maybe the bill wouldn’t have as many of the glaring deficiencies as it does.  

“If this Bill was to pass in its current form we would become just another one of the states who talk the talk about Hate Crime laws but don’t walk the walk.

“This is not a road we want to go down. There is no point in having legislation unless it can be implemented properly and accordingly.  

“It is our belief that this Bill could not function within the context of Ireland’s legal system.  

 “We believe that allowing this Bill to go forward to Committee stage would be irresponsible and be a regressive step.  

 “Hate crime legislation is not about protecting the minority groups that will earn you votes; it's about providing legal protection to all minorities against attacks because of their race, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender expression or sexual orientation.”

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