By Owen Davidson
On Oct. 13, CNN reported that an anonymous Irish person spoke on the phone with Iman Ibrahim Noonan, the owner of a Myriam Mosque in Galloway.
Noonan told reporters that the caller “didn’t want Irish culture to change and that he belonged to a far-right group.” The caller claimed “he had attended a meeting where people said they were planning to attack his mosque and harm him.”
Noonan interpreted the conversation as a threat of an attack, which he told police, according to CNN. There were also reports that the perpetrators broke windows, vandalized the owner’s office and damaged the video surveillance system.
CNN also reported that the Irish government “doesn’t gather national statistics on hate-crime, racist attacks, or discrimination,” nor does it have “purpose-build hate crime legislation” like most countries within the European Union. Although hate crimes can be considered an “aggravating factor” when determining sentencing, no law pertains to hate crimes in Ireland’s criminal justice system.
According to CNN, the current 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act has rendered provoking any hatred based on one’s nationality, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation an offense. However, the legislation has resulted in five convictions in the past 30 years since the law mainly applies to hate speech.
According to a 2017 Irish Times article, Ireland has expanded civil liberties for minorities. Four years ago, Irish citizens voiced their approval of marriage equality. In the same year, the Irish government passed laws giving transgender people the right to have identity legally recognized.
“…Violence on the basis of difference continues to be a real challenge for both parts of this island in the 21st century,” The Irish Times reported. “In 2016, An Garda Síochána recorded a hate crime nearly every day. Research suggests that these figures are unrepresentative of the true prevalence of hate crimes and that the real statistics are likely to be much higher.”
The Irish News reported that Oct. 12 to 19 was National Hate Crime Awareness Week. The event, which was held in Co Antrim, aimed to shed light on goals in Northern Ireland to “‘promote inclusivity and support victims.’”
The Irish Times reported that “the victim of the hate crime is recorded as a person to whom hostility or prejudice is displayed under race, homophobia (sexual orientation), sectarianism, faith/religion (non-sectarian), disability or transphobia.”
According to The Irish News, The Police Service of Northern Ireland, which took part in the event, revealed that recent statistics show that from July 2018 to June 2019, there were 1,607 hate crimes, which is 167 more than the previous year.
“‘There is no place for hate in Northern Ireland,’” Emma Barronwell from Victim Support NI told The Irish Times. “‘We want all victims of hate crime to know that they are not alone and that support is available immediately after an incident or at any stage.’”