Irish Justice Minister considers adding migration status as a protected category under hate crime law

Pringle argued that the recent surge in anti-immigrant activity in the country makes it important to recognize migration status in this way.

Irish Justice Minister considers adding migration status as a protected category under hate crime law
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Irish Minister for Justice Simon Harris is considering adding migration status as a protected category under the forthcoming hate crime legislation, the 'Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill,' which would ostensibly ban any Irish citizen from protesting against mass migration.

According to the Irish Times, the bill is designed to criminalize behavior likely to incite violence or hatred associated with certain "protected characteristics." These characteristics include race, religion, gender, and disability.

The Oireachtas Justice Committee met on Tuesday to discuss amendments to the bill, where Independent TD Thomas Pringle submitted an amendment to add immigration status as a protected characteristic.

Pringle argued that the recent surge in anti-immigrant activity in the country makes it important to recognize migration status in this way. The amendment would include people with permission to remain in Ireland, as well as people with no status.

The minister noted that the bill's current characteristics were based on those contained in the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act 1989, with additional ones added following extensive consultation with minority groups. While the Minister supports the TDs' intentions, he has to seek legal advice on the matter before making any commitment.

The Minister also rejected other amendments amid concerns they would make convictions too difficult or easy to achieve under the bill. This included defining "hate" as a "state of mind characterized as intense and irrational emotions of opprobrium, enmity, and detestation towards the target group."

Harris argued that such a definition would make it too difficult to secure convictions, as each constituent element in the definition would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He also declined to define hate as including "bias, prejudice, contempt, misogyny, and bigotry" as it would set too low a bar for prosecution.

Harris pointed out that other countries have not defined hate in their versions of the legislation. The minister said that the intent of the bill was to target the most common type of hate-based crimes in the country. However, he can "instinctively" see the benefit of adding migration status as an additional category, an amendment that was also tabled by Bríd Smith of People Before Profit and Pa Daly of Sinn Féin.

The minister said he would consider it and report back at the committee stage.

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