Opposing the Hate Speech Bill

Opposing the Hate Speech Bill

About the Bill

The Hate Speech Bill, formally the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, has become one of the most controversial bills in Irish history.

We are concerned that ill-defined and unclear aspects of the bill will in effect result in limitations being placed on people’s right to freedom of expression.
We would like to draw attention to the following sections in particular:

Section 7:
Establishes that a person may be found guilty of an offence if the person “communicates material to the public or a section of the public” .
This not only opens an individual to prosecution for personal statements made, but also for the sharing of content on social media, even if published by another user in a separate country or jurisdiction.
Part 3 of this section states that “it shall be a defence to prove that the material concerned or, insofar as appropriate,” if the contribution is considered “genuine” or “reasonable”.
These are vague and subjective criteria that may see an individual fined or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

Section 8:
Broadly covers the communication of material relating to genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
Similarly however, Section 8 fails to make provisions for the sharing of material published by another individual or entity.
It opens a person to prosecution for sharing of historical articles or news items that may not reflect the contemporary views of Irish society.
Furthermore this could also affect the communication of material from a foreign culture or country where world views may differ to our own.

Section 9:
Under this section a person may be found guilty irrespective of whether communication of material or behaviour was successful in inciting another person to violence or hatred. This would penalise individuals as a result of gross speculation.

Section 10:
The possession of material which is not considered “reasonable” or a “genuine contribution” shall be an offence. As with Section 7, these are subjective criteria and are deeply concerning as the bill does not establish what is considered a “reasonable” or “genuine contribution”. It is vital that lawful expression is not restricted by the Government.

Section 11:
There is a concerning limited and ill-defined “Protection Of Freedom Of Expression” afforded by the bill in Section 11.
This section is no more than four lines, and does not establish clear protections for Freedom of Speech.

We recommend that legislators reject the bill in its current form. Irish legislators could instead take steps to expand protections against harassment, rather than broadly restrict the speech of all individuals.

Taking Action

1. Contact politicians

Every Irish person can call, email, or write letters to their representative in the Dáil (TD’s) and Seanad (Senators).

The Minister for Justice, who is responsible for the Hate Speech Bill, has conceded that she will not rush the Bill through the remaining Seanad stages. So concerned citizens and voters still have some time to make their views known. Please do so – especially to Government TD’s and Senators, and directly to the Department of Justice.

Their email addresses and phone numbers are available trough the above links. An increasing amount of politicians can also be reached out to via social media.

Irish TD’s and Senators frequently attend public meetings throughout Ireland. One of the best ways to voice your concerns to them, is to do so in person. 

2. Send a letter to the President

After a bill passes through the Oireachtas the president must sign off on it. If the president believes a bill may be unconstitutional, they must send it to the Supreme Court for review.

It is quite possible that the Bill, or parts of it, are unconstitutional, given the provisions for freedom of expression in Bunreacht na hÉireann.

You may share your thought on the Hate Speech Bill with the president by sending a stamped letter to:

The President
Áras an Uachtaráin
Phoenix Park
Dublin 8

3. Sign the petition. 

During public consultation a petition against these proposed laws gathered close to 5,000 signatures. We at Free Speech Ireland have started a new one, which you can find on this link below. 


4. Stay in touch with us

To stay in touch with the wider campaign to reject the Hate Speech Bill, subscribe to our mailing list (we won’t spam you) and make sure to follow us on your socials: