AN GARDA Síochána have today announced a new project which will focus on the much-needed legislation of Hate Crime reporting and investigation.
The three-year project, entitled the Garda Síochána Diversity and Integration Strategy, will focus predominantly on introducing a working definition of 'Hate Crime' in order for Gardaí to properly investigate reports.
The announcement comes after a high-profile incident in which a mixed-race couple and their toddler son left the country after suffering horrific racial abuse following an appearance in a Lidl advert.
The couple were left fearing for their lives after receiving death threats, but when they reported the abuse to Gardaí, they were told there was nothing that could be done. Due to the lack of hate crime legislation in Ireland, the abuse was seen as a "civil matter".
The new initiative now introduces the working definition of hate crime as "Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender".
The new Garda project will also entail the development of strong emphasis on human rights while policing, as well as training Gardaí in diversity, integration and hate crime.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris welcomed the initiative today, saying the project reflects "An Garda Síochána's strong commitment to engage proactively and respectfully with all members of society, including those from minority groups and diverse backgrounds".
He added: "The working hate crime definition recognises the existing and emerging diverse composition of our communities, and aims to protect all minorities and diverse groups in society. An Garda Síochána takes hate crime seriously, and each and every hate crime reported to us will be professionally investigated.”
Minister of State David Stanton also welcomed the "needed" initiative, saying that the Irish Government "is committed to ensuring that Ireland is a safe and secure place for all."
Minister Stanton also confirmed that a new Anti-Racism Committee would soon be set up in a further attempt to combat racism.