The Incitement to Violence or Hatred bill which is “paused” at the moment has attracted a lot of negative attention, not only in Ireland but also abroad. It says a lot for the Oireachtas that some of the most trenchant criticism of the bill has come from the Seanad. One fundamental criticism: the intention of the new Hate Crime bill is to make it easier to secure more convictions. The old 1989 Act wasn’t securing enough convictions for the new Thought Police.
A second key fact ignored by the Government is that of the 3600 submissions received on the Hate Speech bill during the consultation period, 73% were opposed to the bill. Leo Varadkar attempted to dismiss this by saying there was a campaign to whip up opposition. As we shall see, and as the record shows there was a very concerted campaign by his Government, the Department of Justice, and the numerous NGOs, all state-funded, who support it, to make it look like it did have public support.
We appeal to democracy when it suits, otherwise we ignore it
On the lack of a definition of hatred in her bill, Helen McEntee enlightened us thus:
We all have an understanding of what hatred means.
There are no less than ten protected characteristics but biological sex is not one of them while gender (including gender expression and identity) is. Those coming under one of these categories will have more rights than those who do not, a dangerous and divisive move that will alienate people not in protected categories. This is identity politics at its worst.
Gender, Transgender and Other Mysteries
But it is when we come to 3.2 (d) where it attempts to define “gender” that the farcical nature of this bill is most apparent.
3.2 (d) “gender” means the gender of a person or the gender which a person expresses as the person’s preferred gender or with which the person identifies and includes transgender and a gender other than those of male and female,
This definition is circular, as has been pointed out; it is gobbledegook for most people, it has become a joke widely outside Ireland. See for instance this episode of the That’s Debatable podcast from the UK Free Speech Union in which Tom Harris and Ben Jones interview Sarah Hardiman of Free Speech Ireland:
Senator Michael McDowell in a letter to Simon Harris, then acting Minister for Justice, asked
“Is transgender a gender for the purposes of Irish law?” and “Can you specify what is meant, in addition to transgender, by ‘any gender other than those of male and female’?”
“We’re creating criminal offences. I want certainty as to what they mean”, he said.
Of course Harris had no answer other than bombast, and neither does McEntee since her return. McDowell in another article, raised the possibility of citizen arrests under the bill, and asked: In this cancel culture era, should activists have the right to physically arrest and detain those whom they suspect are engaging in incitement to hatred?
Senator McDowell said the Gender Recognition Act 2015 already provided that if the preferred gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man; and if the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman. A certificate would issue to this effect.
Stakeholder Consultation or Government Preference
The philosopher Gerard Casey likewise commented: We are not told what gender is; what transgender is; what a gender other than male or female might be or how many of them there might be; and how any of the three listed gender items differ from or relate to one another.
The Irish Times welcomed the bill: So the publication of the Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill (2022) is a welcome attempt both to make prosecution easier and to prohibit and penalise transphobic speech.
Gerard Casey seized on this editorial to ask: Why of all the possible virtues of this Bill, does the Irish Times leader writer accord singular mention to its putative prohibition and penalisation of transphobic speech? The Bill doesn’t mention transphobic speech.
Transphobia, as a hate speech crime, pre-empts criticism of transgenderist ideology.
In the Dáil debate much of the argument against the bill was provided by Paul Murphy who raised very valid concerns about the bill not defining “hate”, and of allowing gardaí to seize your electronic devices if they suspect you have “hateful” material on them — even if the material has been shared with no-one.
The Minister in defence, said that the Joint Oireachtas Committee themselves “had an open consultation, and engaged across a broad spectrum of individuals.”
It published a report on the hate speech bill in April 2022. The report lists 14 “stakeholder” groups and individuals who were consulted about the hate speech bill. It turns out that every one of these supported hate speech laws. Most of the NGOs are state-funded; indeed of the 14 groups consulted at least 11 receive funding directly from the Irish government.
The final Dáil vote was 110 in favour, 14 against and 36 not present.
Senator McDowell told the Irish Daily Mail that the bill “got a majority support in the Dáil because I think a lot of people were afraid of being seen as questioning woke agenda”.
More Reservations, More Doubts
Nuala O’Loan, has said that the proposed hate-speech legislation “has the capacity to do immense damage to free speech and democracy in Ireland.”
According to Free Speech Ireland there were more than 70 amendments tabled in the Seanad to the bill and not enough time was allowed to consider them all.
Even the Irish Times previously in favour has expressed doubts:
McDowell’s points resonate with those – and there are plenty – who are bewildered by the discussion on trans rights. It finishes with this warning note:
What looked like an easy win for the Government has come back to bite them. She can pause the Bill now and try to address both the serious points raised by McDowell and the wider unease…
A report from the Free Speech Union in England reveals police failing to teach officers about free speech when investigating and recording “hate crimes”, but most police forces said EDI,
Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity, is inextricably embedded in police training. In the Gárda Síochána a great deal of emphasis is placed on “Hate Crime” and “Hate Speech”, even recording NCHIs, (for which it has no mandate in law), but its members have had no training in free speech.
One of the most powerful articles against the bill, one by Lucinda Creighton, appeared in the Business Post. This was a searingly truthful, no holds barred, absolutely scathing attack on the Dáil, the Minister and the Attorney General. She also for good measure refers to the grip the NGOs have on the political establishment and are now dictating policy against those they don’t like.
Helen McEntee has once more, through this bill, shown how she has been captured by ideologues. We recall in June 2022 she launched the Third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, DSGBV. The three person Executive Group appointed to draft the strategy consisted of one person each from NWCI, Safe Ireland and the Department of Justice. From that moment the outcome was determined.
Our comment on this most appalling decision is here.