Protecting commonly targeted groups in the context of ‘new politics’: the case of Ireland

Abstract

This article addresses the big ‘P’ politics of hate by examining the circumstances that produced an apparent radical and sudden shift among the parties of government in Ireland from long-standing resistance to the introduction of hate crime legislation to an expansive approach to protecting commonly targeted minorities. By means of a directed qualitative content analysis of parliamentary debate regarding the Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016, we argue that four factors aid comprehension of this uncommon pattern - the range of the Irish political spectrum, the current balance of power in parliament, the approach to the protection of difference adopted by established parties and finally, the permeability of the Irish political system and the consequent influence of civil society organisations representing targeted communities on the parliamentary debate. We argue that, rather than underscoring the national influence of global trends and international good practice, recent developments in Ireland demonstrate the importance of attending to the peculiarities of the local context in interpreting the meaning and significance of responses to hate crime.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    FiannaFail.ie ‘New Bill will help combat hate crime’

  2. 2.

    It would also appear that, certainly in those jurisdictions with limited victim categories, those included are not necessarily done so on the basis of any policy reasons but rather on the basis political judgment and lobbying. In Northern Ireland, for example, MENCAP lobbied for the inclusion of the disabled community in the 2004 Order. Most ironically from a policy perspective, in Ireland 1989 when it was illegal to engage in consensual homosexual acts, sexual orientation was included in the categories of victims in the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act. Similarly, the travelling community was so included despite the refusal of the Irish government to recognise the community as a separate ethnic group.

  3. 3.

    The third stage of the legislative process happens via committee, most commonly a select committee tasked with considering amendments to the proposed legislation. The Bill is returned to the house in the fourth stage, but for consideration of amendments only.

  4. 4.

    The Irish police service

  5. 5.

    Deputy Daly here was referring to Deputy Josepha Madigan, who participated in the debates. Deputy Madigan had stated in October 2015 that building Traveller accommodation in an affluent part of South Dublin would be a ‘waste of valuable resources’. http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/fg-colleagues-fail-to-back-candidate-who-opposes-traveller-site-34124081.html

  6. 6.

    For example, the Citizenship Referendum of 2014 which specifically othered migrant mothers, see [30].

  7. 7.

    These materials draw extensively on research conducted on these issues by the authors of this article.

  8. 8.

    Compiled by the authors of this article.

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Haynes, A., Schweppe, J. Protecting commonly targeted groups in the context of ‘new politics’: the case of Ireland. Crime Law Soc Change 71, 307–324 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-019-09819-8

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