Bigots, racists and homophobes will get up to five years jail if convicted under Ireland’s new hate laws, we can reveal.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee has confirmed she will bring the legislation before the Dail in the next few weeks.
It comes after a spate of deliberate attacks against members of the LBGTQI community in Dublin over the summer and a growing number of hate crimes around the country.
There are also now over one million immigrants from all around the world living in Ireland.
The new Bill will create, for the first time in Ireland, specific hate crime offences.
They will be in the guise of aggravated forms of existing criminal offences where offenders are motivated by hatred of a protected characteristic such as race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity and disability.
The Dept of Justice said: “The Bill proposes a number of new offences relating to incitement to violence or hatred with penalties of up to five years imprisonment for conviction or indictment.
“It sets out the penalties that apply to each specific offense that has been proven to have been motivated by hatred or prejudice against a particular protected characteristic.
All offences that were aggravated by a hate element will incur penalties that are higher than the ordinary form of the offense, unless the penalties are already set at the maximum possible.
“The Bill also provides that in any offence , other than the specific aggravated offences,where the Court determines that the perpetrator was motivated by prejudice in carrying out the offence, the Court shall treat that as an aggravating factor in sentencing the person.”
The Justice MInister Helen McEntee condemned the attacks on minority groups.
She said: “I strongly condemn the actions of the small minority of people who subject others to abuse or attack resulting from their own prejudice.
“These types of attacks cannot and will not be tolerated.