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Written Answers. - Anti-Racism Measures.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 369. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  if his attention has been drawn to the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism finding that there has been an increase in racist street crime in the past 12 months; the status of his Department's review of the Incitement to Hatred Act announced in August 2001 and reiterated in the programme for Government; if it is likely to lead to new hate crime legislation; if so, when it is planned for this legislation to come forward; if the review is not complete, when the review will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24627/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell According to the annual report of the Garda Síochána for 2001, the number of headline offences reported or known to the Garda during that year under section 2 of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989, was eight. Five cases were detected and proceedings commenced in two of these cases. One case resulted in a conviction. During the same period, proceedings were taken in 12 non-headline offences under section 2 of the 1989 Act, resulting in a further three convictions. The Garda authorities, conscious of the importance of the recording and monitoring of racist incidents, have, since October of this year, through the PULSE system, put in place a mechanism to record and gather information on racist incidents and offenders nationwide. The review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989, is ongoing at my Department. This review is being carried out in co-operation with the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism.

In 2001, the Council of Europe established a committee on criminalising acts of a racist or xenophobic nature committed through computer networks. Ireland participated in this committee, which drew up a draft protocol to the convention on cybercrime on this issue. This protocol was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in November, 2002 and will be opened for signature in early 2003. In November, 2001, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia. Negotiations on the Framework Decision are at an advanced stage.

The review being carried out by my Department is a comprehensive one, involving many issues. I consider it appropriate to await the outcome of these negotiations, before finalising the review of our existing legislation. The final texts of both instruments will be considered, to fully assess their implications in the context of the legislative review.


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