Racist Crime and Racial Discrimination - Responsible bodies

Racist crime

Racist crime (which is dealt with under the criminal law) is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality and An Garda Sochna (Irish Police Force). The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration monitors trends in racist crime and publishes trend tables on its website (www.integration.ie).The tables break down the racist crime incidents into ten categories of crime. A breakdown is only available for statistics from 2006 onwards and where there are five or more of a particular offence recorded. All racist crime offences where there are fewer than five incidents of a particular type recorded are recorded under the heading "Other offences". Further disaggregation is not possible in published statistics as the Central Statistics Office (who compile all crime statistics) are concerned that it might lead to the identification of victims.
    The funding section of the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration is also involved in funding a small number of anti racism measures (funding the annual Holocaust Memorial Event, the Show Racism the Red Card Creative Competition for schools and providing funding for developing diversity/intercultural strategies are examples).

      Racial discrimination

      Discrimination on the ground of race is prohibited by law in the provision of goods and services (dealt with under the civil law Equal Status Acts) or in employment (dealt with under the civil law Employment Equality Acts). This legislation falls within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality. For the purpose of equality legislation the ground of race is defined as being of different race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins. Discrimination and harassment in relation to recruitment, conditions of employment and pay on nine grounds, including race, religious belief and membership of the Traveller community, are outlawed under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011. Discrimination and harassment on the same grounds in the supply of goods or services, education and housing are prohibited under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2012. You can find copies of these acts on the website http:www.irishstatutebook.ie.

      You can find a Guide to the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2011 at this link - http://www.ihrec.ie/download/pdf/ihrec_employment_equality_rights_explained.pdf

      You can find a guide to the Equal Status Acts, 2000-2012 at this link - http://www.ihrec.ie/download/pdf/ihrec_equal_status_rights_explained.pdf

      The equality legislation also permits complaints to be referred in respect of discrimination on any combination of one or more of the nine discriminatory grounds. An additional ground (the "housing assistance ground") was added in an Act of 2015 covering discrimination in the supply of housing against people in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance or any payment under the Social Welfare Acts. Link to Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015.

      Discrimination on the ground of race is also prohibited in relation to occupational pensions under the Pensions Act 1990, which falls within the remit of the Minister for Social Protection.

      Multiple grounds were specified in approximately one fifth to one quarter of complaints referred annually to the Equality Tribunal until it was merged with the Workplace Relations Commission.

      Statistics obtained from the Equality Tribunal (before it became part of the Workplace Relations Commission) on the number of cases taken before the Tribunal on the race ground each year are available here on this page of the OPMI website - http://www.integration.ie/website/omi/omiwebv6.nsf/page/statistics-RacistIncidentsstatistics-EqTribcasesdecisions-en


      The Statutory Equality Agencies

      Two agencies were established under the equality legislation - the Equality Authority and the Equality Tribunal.

      The Equality Authority's functions were to combat discrimination and promote equality of opportunity in the areas covered by equality legislation, to monitor and keep this legislation under review and to make recommendations to the Minister for change. The Equality Authority's powers included those of providing legal assistance to and taking cases on behalf of claimants under the Acts and conducting research on equality related issues, conducting equality reviews and action plans, preparing codes of practice, conducting inquiries.
        The Authority also supported public and private sector organisations to develop their organisational systems to promote equality and to combat discrimination. The Equality Authority helped to develop and operate a Workplace Diversity Initiative, funded by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, to support IBEC, Congress and local Chambers to promote diversity in the workplace.

        The Authority also published a number of reports assessing levels of discrimination in Ireland, including on the race ground. One of its most recent reports on discrimination on the race ground is Ethnicity and Nationality in the Irish Labour Market: Evidence from the QNHS Equality Module 2010, (ESRI, 2013). This study examined whether immigrants in Ireland faced less favourable prospects and reported higher levels of discrimination in the labour market than the native-born population.


        A new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, formed by the merger of the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission, continues to provide advice and assistance to persons wishing to pursue complaints on the 10 grounds of discrimination unlawful under the Acts. It has enhanced powers and functions and will be able to provide advice and assistance on both equality and human rights issues in an integrated way.

        The Equality Tribunal has been replaced by the Workplace Relations Commission (formed by the merger of the Labour Relations Commission, Employment Appeals Tribunal and National Employment Rights Authority). Despite its name, it hears complaints under both the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts. It is an independent statutory office which investigates or mediates complaints of unlawful discrimination. It operates in accordance with the principles of natural justice and its core values are impartiality, professionalism, accessibility and timeliness. The Commission has jurisdiction in all the areas covered by the Equality legislation, with the exception of service in licensed premises where claims of discrimination can be brought before the District Court under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003.

        You can find information on how to make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Equal Status Acts at this link -

        You can find information on how to make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Employment Equality Acts at this link -

        Garda Sochna (Irish Police Force) Ombudsman Commission

        The Garda Sochna Ombudsman Commission is an independent police complaints authority established by the Garda Sochna Act 2005. It became operational in May 2007. It is responsible for receiving and dealing with all complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of An Garda Sochna. The number of complaints made in 2011 alleging discrimination on the grounds of race or religion was 27. Statistics for previous years are available on the website of the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration at this link:

        Racist material on the internet

        Racist material on the internet is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality, An Garda Sochna and the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) Hotline (www.hotline.ie) which was launched in 1999 to provide an anonymous reporting service to members of the public who uncover illegal content on the internet. The hotline was established primarily to report incidences of Child Pornography but later became the responsible body for receiving reports of financial scams and racist material. The primary work of the Irish Hotline service is to remove illegal material on websites hosted in Ireland. If hotline.ie assesses the material to be probably illegal under Irish Law the location of the illegal material is then traced. If found to be hosted or distributed from Ireland, An Garda Sochna and the relevant ISPAI member are notified, so the material can be removed from public internet access and an investigation may be initiated. However, some material that is reported is contained on sites hosted in other jurisdictions. If reported material is found to be hosted outside Ireland, details of the illegal content are forwarded via the "INHOPE" hotline. INHOPE, the International Association of Internet Hotlines, exchanges reports of illegal on-line content to expedite the investigation of such material by the competent law enforcement body in the countries in which the material associated with each report is hosted. Where the source country does not have an INHOPE member Hotline, the report is sent to An Garda Sochna for transmission through police channels. In some countries, for example the United States, the INHOPE hotlines deal solely with reports of child pornography.
          Material contained on many of the large social networking sites are hosted in the United States including content uploaded onto "Facebook". We understand that a large portion of the material contained on these US sites which are reported because they are considered offensive may not be considered illegal under Amendment 1 of the US Constitution which covers freedom of expression. In these cases, it is not possible under US law to have the material removed

          Press Council of Ireland, the Press Ombudsman and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

          Complaints can also be made to the Press Council of Ireland, the Press Ombudsman and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in appropriate cases.


          Legislation (criminal law) regarding racist crime is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality. Legislation (civil law) in relation to racial discrimination is also a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality.
            A range of domestic legislation is relevant to the issue of racism, as follows:
            The use of words, behaviour or the publication or distribution of material which is threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended, or are likely, to stir up hatred are prohibited under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 . Broadcasts likely to stir up hatred along with preparation and possession of material likely to stir up hatred are also prohibited under the Act. The Act offers comprehensive protection to persons having hatred incited against them on account of their race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation.
              The provisions of other Acts such as the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 , the Non- Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 and the Criminal Damage Act 1991 can also be used to protect persons and their property against attack, including racist attack.

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