Thursday, 16 June 2022
Department of Justice and Equality
An Garda Síochána
427. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she has discussed with the Garda Commissioner the option of setting up a specific Garda taskforce to tackle the recent incidents of homophobic hate crimes across Ireland and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31484/22]
I strongly condemn the actions of the small minority who subject others to abuse or attack resulting from their own prejudice. In recent months we have seen vicious crimes take place. These types of attacks cannot, and will not, be tolerated.
We live in a diverse and welcoming country and our laws and values should reflect this. I will shortly, subject to Government approval, publish the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill which will legislate against hate crime and hate speech and help to ensure that Ireland is safe, fair and inclusive for all.
The Bill will strengthen the law around hate crime by creating new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic.
The protected characteristics under the Hate Crime Bill include sexual orientation and gender.
Aggravated offences will generally carry an enhanced penalty and the record of any conviction for such an offence would clearly state that the offence was a hate crime.
In relation to setting up a specific Garda taskforce, as the deputy is aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of Garda business, including all operational policing matters. As Minister, I have no role in these independent functions.
The Garda National Diversity and Integration Unit (GNDIU) forms part of the Garda Community Relations Bureau and has a very positive working relationship with minority communities in Ireland.
The Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy is externally focused on An Garda Síochána’s relations with the communities that it serves, delivering on the obligations on An Garda Síochána in relation to human rights and equality under Irish, EU law and international conventions.
Under the National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy, An Garda Síochána are working to significantly increase reporting of hate crimes to An Garda Síochána by members of the LGBTI+ community owing to the more open relationship that has been developed.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána has implemented a number of specific operations in Dublin City aimed at addressing anti-social activity. The operations involve increased uniform and plain clothes proactive patrolling of the city, with a particular emphasis on the city centre.
Operation Citizen, established in November 2021, is a co-ordinated approach involving Gardaí from both Dublin Metropolitan Region South Central and North Central with an emphasis on providing high-visibility policing in the city centre to provide reassurance to the public and proactively tackle incidents of anti-social behaviour.
I am further informed that, as part of An Garda Síochána’s ongoing national response to hate crime, the Garda National Diversity and Integration Unit (GNDIU) provides assurance to members of the public in relation to reports of hate-based occurrences. This includes daily monitoring of all recorded hate crimes / incidents on PULSE and social media, advising investigating members, supporting investigations and providing assurance to victims and their communities.
A new, non-emergency online hate crime reporting mechanism was launched by An Garda Síochána in July 2021 to improve accessibility to the Garda service for victims of all types of Hate Crime. It is available via the garda.ie website and provides a safe and secure environment for victims, who may previously have been reluctant to report in person to An Garda Síochána.