Long welcomes completion of review into hate crime legislation

Date published: 30 November 2020

The completion of a review in to hate crime legislation is an important first step in addressing the issue, Justice Minister Naomi Long has said.

Picture of Justice Minister Naomi Long

Judge Desmond Marrinan was appointed by the Department of Justice to carry out the independent review.

Speaking after receiving Judge Marrinan’s Report, Naomi Long said: “Judge Marrinan has undertaken a thorough review of our hate crime legislation.  I know that he has consulted widely with a range of experts, academics, interested individuals and groups, not only across Northern Ireland, but further afield as well.

“The recommendations in his Final Report are complex and wide–ranging and people may hold contrasting views on some of them.  That is why I want to take some time to give them careful consideration.

“It is important that we build on the opportunity this provides for us to move towards strengthening and updating hate crime legislation in Northern Ireland.

“Hate crime in any form is unacceptable and addressing it is one of my priorities.  Whether offline or online, targeting a person because of who they are or what they believe – be it their race, religion, political belief, sexuality, gender identity or disability – is wrong.

“I want to thank Judge Marrinan for his work on reviewing hate crime legislation and for producing a comprehensive final report.”

His final report contains 34 recommendations focussed on ensuring that existing hate crime legislation represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred by considering issues such as: the range of protected characteristics; aggravated offence model for prosecutions; the use of stirring up offences; opportunities for restorative justice; support for victims; and online hate speech.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Review was formally established by the Department of Justice in June 2019.

2. Judge Desmond Marrinan was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1972 and later to the Irish Bar. He specialised in criminal law, EC law and professional negligence until his appointment as a County Court judge in 2003. He served as such until 2018 dealing mostly with criminal trials in the Crown Court and continues to sit as a deputy County Court judge. From 2008 – 2011 he served as the Recorder of Londonderry. He was formerly the vice- chair of the Law reform Advisory Committee. From 1971 – 1978 he lectured in public law at the Queen's University of Belfast and latterly was an external examiner for the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's University Belfast. He presently serves as one of the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland.

3.  The final report is available at the publication section of this website

4. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email at:  press.office@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk

5.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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