Hate crime in Ireland: key developments


love not hate campaign for hate crime legislation

We want to show the government that better protection for those targeted by hate-motivated attacks is an important issue for many people and organisations nationwide. We would like to see unity across all sectors against hate crime, and put strong pressure on the Minister for Justice to introduce hate crime legislation immidiately.

About the campaign

Hate crimE in ireland:

Key Developments Since 2000

This page provides a summary of some key events and developments in relation to hate crime legislation and policing in Ireland since 2000, with the main focus on racist crimes.

Updates on the state of hate crime legislation development process will also be published on this page.

July 2000: Dublin Metropolitan District court convicts a bus driver under the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, for an incident on a bus in which he racially abused a passenger and told him to go back to his own country. He is also convicted of assault. However, this first-ever successful conviction under the 1989 Act was subsequently quashed by the Circuit Court in March 2001.

September 2000: The Irish government announces a review of the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act. The Law Reform Commission has described the Act as particularly ineffectual in combating online hate speech.

May 2001: Six Dublin men are charged under the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, for an incident during which there were a number of serious assaults on two black men, a father and son, during which the men were racially abused. One of the 6 men charged was Paul Barry, who would eventually be convicted of assault, but not of Incitement to Hatred. Barry would later be charged and detained in relation to the 2010 murder of black teenager Toyosi Shittabey, where the prosecution accused him of fatally stabbing the 15-year-old (see below). Barry took his own life while awaiting trial in the Shittabey case. In the absence of hate crime legislation, the potential racist element was not pursued in either case.

2004: Mayo farmer Padraig Nally shoots and kills John Ward, a Traveller trespassing on his land. Nally is convicted of manslaughter and imprisoned. A racially charged public and media debate ensues. In 2006 the Court of Criminal Appeal overturns the manslaughter charge and Nally walks free after a retrial in which the jury find him not guilty.

May 2005: Two Dublin men are acquitted of murder, but one found guilty of the manslaughter of Ly Minh Luong in Temple Bar in Dublin on 16 August 2002. Both men were also found guilty of causing harm to Mr Wei Dong, who was assaulted and racially abused in the same incident. Mr Luong died 3 days later from his injuries. It is thought that the case was not treated or recorded as a hate crime.

January 2008: 18-years-old Marioara Rostas, a Roma girl who recently arrived from Romania to join her family, was abducted while begging in the streets in Dublin. Over a two-day period, she was sexually assaulted by a number of men connected to a Dublin criminal gang and died from being shot four times in the head. Her body was dumped in a shallow grave where it was not found for four years. A 2014 trial acquitted one suspect of her murder. In the absence of hate crime legislation, the potential racist hate element was not recognised during the investigation.

October 2008: The Morris Tribunal publishes the Final Report of its 5 years of hearings and investigation into serious allegations of Garda corruption and misconduct. Among the findings was that of a “them and us” culture operating within An Garda Síochána (AGS), briefly prompting Minority Ethnic recruitment quotas until they were abandoned under austerity and the recruitment freeze in 2009.

April 2010: Toyosi Shittabey a 15-year-old black boy from Tyrellstown, Dublin, is fatally stabbed after being racially abused. Two brothers are charged with the killing. One dies by suicide at the start of the trial. The second is acquitted of murder. In the absence of hate crime legislation, the potential hate element was not recognized as part of the investigation  (see May 2001).

April 2011: An audio recording emerges which captures a number of Gardaí in a Garda vehicle making repeated ‘jokes’ about raping and deporting one of two female environmental protesters they had arrested.

April 2011: The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issues Concluding Observations in its third and fourth report on Ireland, urging the introduction of hate crime legislation and the publication of disaggregated data on racist incidents.

November 2011: Dublin Black Taxi driver Moses Ayanwole died in hospital after being assaulted by a passenger. A man was later acquitted of manslaughter. In the absence of hate crime legislation, the potential hate element was not recognized as part of the investigation.

January 2013: Fianna Fáil Donegal County Councillor Seán McEniff repeatedly makes comments live on the radio about segregating Travellers and condemning the Council for providing accommodation to a Traveller family. The comments are followed by an arson attack on that Traveller family’s home. Efforts to pursue a prosecution under the 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act are unsuccessful.

February 2013: A report by the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) urges a ban on Ethnic profiling, the introduction of hate crime legislation and constitutional protections against racism. It emphasises General Recommendation urging better police efforts to combat racism and monitor racist incidents.

July 2013: The Integration Centre publishes ‘Recording Racism in Ireland’ report which, identifies gaps in Garda procedures on recording racist crimes, it makes a series of recommendations for addressing them.

2013: Gardaí and health workers removed a seven-year-old blonde-haired Roma girl from her family in Tallaght, Dublin on suspicion that she had been abducted by her own family. The next day, Gardaí in Athlone removed a second blonde-haired Roma child from his family. Both children were returned to their families. An investigation found that the families had been targeted as a result of ethnic profiling by health services and the police, however, it reported that there was “no evidence of institutional racism” influencing public authorities’ decision-making process.

December 2013: INAR (formerly ENAR Ireland) launches iReport.ie, an independent, national online system to capture incidents of racist violence, and police responses to victims. It replaces and further develops the NCCRI recording system and provides the basis for a number of analyses and reports on hate crime, racist violence and discrimination in Ireland. To this date, it publishes the iReport.ie Reports of Racism in Ireland.

May 2014: The Minister for Justice faces opposition questioning after it emerges that Gardaí were using the PULSE crime database to record details of Traveller children, some as young as 16 days old.

January 2014: ‘A Life Free From Fear’ Legislating for Hate Crime in Ireland: An NGO Perspective is published by the Hate and Hostility Research Group, University of Limerick.

March 2014: Universal Periodic Review interim report on Ireland recommends the introduction of hate crime legislation.

2015: ‘Out of the Shadows: Legislating for Hate Crime in Ireland – Preliminary Findings’ is published by the Hate and Hostility Group, University of Limerick.

2015-2017: Garda crime figures found to be so unreliable they are not published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

January 2016: INAR launches Love Not Hate campaign for the introduction of hate crime legislation.

June 2016: The National LGBT Federation publishes ‘Burning Issues 2: What’s Next for LGBT in Ireland’ report based on the largest consultation of the LGBT community ever undertaken in Ireland. The report strongly recommends for the Government to introduce hate crime legislation to protect all minorities as the prevention of bullying and violence is the key concern of the LGBT community.

July 2016: Fianna Fail backbenchers introduce a private members Hate Crime Bill in the Oireachtas.

2016: A ‘discriminatory motive’ flag is introduced to PULSE the AGS recording system, including specific groups.

January 2017: The NGO-research coalition, the National Steering Group Against Hate Crime is established. Now re-named as the Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland, CAHC is a civil society coalition whose members represent groups commonly targeted in hate crimes, including Minority Ethnic Groups, religious minorities, LGBTQI communities, disabled people and people with intellectual disability, and others, as well as academics and researchers. It is charged with harnessing the capacity of collaborating NGOs, monitoring and fact-checking reports, and advising on strategies to push CAHC’s agenda for reforming Ireland’s laws, policies and practices on hate crime.

March 2017: NGOs present to members of the Oireachtas at a special hearing on hate crime, urging support for a heavily amended Hate Crime Bill.

May 2017: INAR, in partnership with Facing All the Facts, hosts a workshop bringing together representatives from across monitoring NGOs and public authorities to identify gaps and opportunities for progress in hate crime monitoring and recording in Ireland.

2017:STAD: Stop Transphobia and Discrimination Report 2014-2016’ is published, highlighting manifestations of transphobia – including reported cases of hate crime, discrimination and everyday micro-aggressions – from 2014 to 2016.

2017: Lifecycle of a Hate Crime, Country Report Ireland’ scrutinising Ireland’s institutional and legislative framework for the investigation and prosecution of hate crime. The authors identify, among others, a “policy vacuum”, lack of police training, and fragmented inter-institutional relationships as factors inhibiting the prosecution of hate crime in Ireland.

January 2018: INAR makes its Submission on Ireland’s combined draft 5th 6th and 7th State report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), recommending inter alia – the adoption of hate crime legislation, measures to tackle racial discrimination within An Garda Síocháná and the banning of racial profiling, in accordance with the concluding observations from CERD’s 3rd and 4th report for Ireland.

February 2018: INAR’s submission to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland calls for a human rights-based radical overhaul of An Garda Síochána’s functions and capacity to deal with hate crime and relate to minority ethnic communities.

June 2018: INAR makes its submission to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) Civil society Roundtable, calling inter alia – for the adoption of Hate Crime Legislation, measures to tackle racial discrimination within An Garda Síocháná and the banning of racial profiling.

July 2018: The Irish Council for Civil Liberties publishes ‘A Human Rights Based Approach to Policing in Ireland’ which contains substantial recommendations on Garda reform, with a specific focus on hate crime and hate crime data recording. The report revealed that Ireland has the highest rates of hate crime against people of African background and transgender people in the European Union.

2018: The Commission on The Future of Policing in Ireland publishes ‘The Future of Policing in Ireland’ which has clear recommendations on hate crime.

December 2018: An Garda Síochána hold a national seminar to support the development of their national hate crime strategy.

February 2019: Press reports that GSOC, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman’s Commission, is carrying out an investigation in relation to allegations that at a 2014 Garda briefing, a senior Garda allegedly made racist comments about black youths. The investigation will also cover an internal Garda probe into the matter.

April 2019: An Garda Síochána revises its hate crime and hate crime incident definition.

October 2019: An Garda Síochána publishes its Diversity and Integration Strategy 2019-2021 including specific obligations on hate crime recording.

October-December 2019: The Government conducts consultation on hate speech and incitement to hatred as part of its ongoing review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989. A report detailing findings of this consultation and research into hate crime legislation in five other jurisdictions is anticipated by the end of 2020.

November 2019:  INAR produces a Collective Civil Society Alternative Report, based on a national Civil Society consultation over the summer of 2019, and submits it to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The report stresses the need for hate crime legislation in Ireland and that leadership is needed to introduce the standards of recording, investigation, and prosecution, as well as victim support, to bring Ireland into line with international good practice.

December 2019:  The Irish Government is presenting State Report to CERD in Geneva.

December 2019: CERD issues Concluding Observations in the combined 5th to 9th reports on Ireland, urging the introduction of hate crime legislation among its main recommendations.  CERD also recommends that Ireland drop its reservation on Article 4 of the ICERD on measures to curb hate speech and curb the activities of groups who spread hatred.

January 2020: Government publishes the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, at the same time approving the drafting of the Bill by the Attorney General’s Office.

2020: Garda National Diversity Forum is established. It is a consultative forum with the Civil Society looking at the implementation of An Garda Síochána’s Diversity and Integration strategy.

2020: INAR in conjunction with Facing Facts is developing Garda Training Modules on Hate Crime, the new Garda working definition of hate crime, hate crime recording on the new Pulse system and victims’ needs.

June 2020: The new Programme for Government commits to the introduction of hate crime legislation within 12 months.

June 2020: The Anti-Racism Committee is established with a mandate to develop a new anti-racism strategy, which the Committee interprets to mean a National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR). Hate crime legislation is to be introduced in a broader context of NAPAR.

November 2020: INAR and IHREC host CERD follow-up events. Prof Verene Shepherd, the UN rapporteur to Ireland on the elimination of racial discrimination and keynote speaker, urges the Government to introduce hate crime legislation as Garda Síochána still lack training in how to deal with racially motivated crimes.

November 2020: Fianna Fail backbenchers private members Hate Crime Bill enters the second stage of the Seanad as senators address the long-overdue need for this law. At the same time, the Government report of its review of the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act awaits publication.

December 2020: Government publishes Legislating for Hate Speech and Hate Crime in Ireland Report based on findings of the 2019 public consultation. The report sets out the Government’s thinking which will determine the wording of a General Scheme of a Bill. Read INAR’s media release.

10 March 2021: INAR and Senator Eileen Flynn relaunch Love Not Hate campaign for hate crime legislation. 

23 March 2021: INAR publishes new Reports of Racism in Ireland based on iReport.ie 2020 data with a record high in racist incidents and assaults. A call is renewed to enact hate crime legislation immediately in a broader context of the National Action Plan Against Racism.

26 March 2021: In partnership with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, INAR hosts “How to Tackle Hate Crime and Protect Our People?” webinar highlighting the issue of hate crime, the forthcoming hate crime legislation and the available supports. The webinar also included a presentation of the current developments in An Garda Síochána in relation to addressing hate crime, including changes in hate crime and diversity practice, the Pulse system, new training, hate crime reporting and definition, third party reporting, Garda online hate crime/hate incident reporting. You can watch the webinars here or below.

16 April 2021: Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, after securing Government approval, publishes the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021The Bill will create new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic. 
This legislation is expected to be enacted in 2022.

Current situation

In June 2020, as the review of the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act concluded, the new Government committed to introducing hate crime legislation within 12 months. The Department of Justice’s Legislating for Hate Speech and Hate Crime in Ireland Report based on this Review’s public consultations and research into hate crime legislation in 5 other jurisdictions, was published on 17th December 2020. This report set out the Government’s thinking, which later determined the wording of a General Scheme of a Bill.  

Following the Government approval, Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee published the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 on 16 April 2021. This General scheme will now go through the usual legislative scrutiny process which will lead to the drafting of a Government Bill.  

This will allow INAR  and its allies in the Coalition Against Hate Crime (CAHC), our Members and broader civil society, to take part in the discussion about the principles of the Government Bill.

What’s Next?

The next steps are:
  1. The Department of Justice will draw on the ideas in this Report to help develop the General Scheme (outline) of a new Hate Crime Bill, which will deal with both incitement to hatred and hate crime. This General Scheme will be brought to the Minister for Justice for approval.
  2. The Minister for Justice will bring the General Scheme to Government for approval, and it will then be published and will go through the usual legislative scrutiny process.
  3. When the scrutiny process is complete, the Department will work with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to draft a formal Hate Crime Bill based on the General Scheme.
  1. Once the drafting process has finished, the Hate Crime Bill can be introduced in the Houses of the Oireachtas by the Minister for Justice.
  2. The Bill will need to be debated and passed at all stages in both the Dáil and the Seanad before being sent to the President for signature.
  3. Once the Bill is signed by the President it is enacted and becomes law.
  4. You can find out more about how legislation passes through the Oireachtas and even view the debates live on  www.oireachtas.ie.

        ‘How to Tackle Hate Crime and Protect Our People?     2 Part Webinar with Facts Against Hate

In partnership with INAR, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu hosted a webinar on Friday, March 26th 2021, highlighting the issue of hate crime and the forthcoming hate crime legislation.

The two-part virtual event entitled “How to Tackle Hate Crime and Protect Our People?” came as a part of Anti-Racism Month 2021.  

The morning session focused on the new legislation and what it may mean for victims of hate crime in the future in Ireland.

The afternoon session focused on the impact of hate crime on victims and support services available.

The webinar also discussed supports available to victims and heard the personal stories and experiences of those affected by hate crime in Ireland.

Watch the morning and the afternoon session of the “How to Tackle Hate Crime and Protect Our People?” webinar below or click here to watch it on YouTube.

FvH & EC logo

Facts Against Hate

This Webinar Series and the resources on this page have been produced as part of the project FACTS AGAINST HATE, supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union (2014-2020). The contents of this page are the sole responsibility of INAR and the Facts Against Hate Project and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.



  • Life Free From Fear Report indicates the need for a legislative change in the area of hate crime in Ireland informed by primary research with non-governmental organisations engaged in supporting communities which are targets of hate crime.
  • The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland show that Ireland is “seriously deficient” when it comes to addressing hate crime in the state. According to the report, in Ireland, from the point at which a victim reports a crime to An Garda Síochána to the point at which a judge sentences an offender, the hate element of the crime is filtered out of the criminal justice process.
  • Connecting on Hate Crime Data in Ireland. This national report aims to describe the context and current picture of hate crime reporting, recording and data collection in Ireland and to present practical, achievable recommendations for improvement. It is hoped that national stakeholders can build on its findings to progress in this critically important piece of broader efforts to understand and effectively address the painful and stubborn problem of hate crime in Ireland.
  • OSCE/ODHIR Hate Crime Reporting Data 2019 for Ireland.
  • INAR’s Alternative Report on Racial Discrimination in Ireland and CERD Committee findings on Ireland (known as CERD Concluding Observations) include the introduction of hate crime legislation among their key recommendations.
  • Read iReport.ie Reports of Racism in Ireland.

Why do we need hate crime legislation

We need to send a clear message that racism and hate have no place in our communities and that our society should be inclusive of all.
We must break the silence on hate crime, encourage people to report it, and find effective ways to address all forms of racism and prejudice. This legislation can help to achieve that.

#LoveNotHate Campaign For hate crime legislation

Find out more about our campaign calling for the introduction of hate crime legislation in Ireland. 


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