Review of Hate Crime Legislation launched

Date published: 06 June 2019

The Department of Justice has commissioned an independent review of hate crime legislation in Northern Ireland, to be led by Judge Desmond Marrinan.

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The review is expected to examine the following issues:

  • a workable and agreed definition of a hate crime;
  • whether the current enhanced sentence approach is appropriate for Northern Ireland;
  • whether new categories of hate crime should be created for characteristics such as gender and any other characteristics (which are not currently covered);
  • the implementation and operation of the current legislative framework for incitement offences, in particular Part III of the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 and make recommendations for improvements;
  • how any identified gaps, anomalies and inconsistencies can be addressed in any new legislative framework ensuring this interacts effectively with other legislation guaranteeing human rights and equality; and
  • whether there is potential for alternative or mutually supportive restorative approaches for dealing with hate motivated offending.

Judge Marrinan will be supported by a reference group, comprising a core group of relevant experts, and a broader forum of key stakeholders.

It is expected that the Review will provide a written report for consideration by May 2020.


Notes to editors: 

1. Desmond Marrinan was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1972 and later to the Irish Bar. He specialised in EC law, criminal law and professional negligence litigation until appointment as a County Court judge in 2003.

He lectured in public law at the Queen’s University of Belfast from 1971-1978 and latterly was an external examiner for the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's. He was formerly the Vice-Chair of the Law Reform Advisory Committee.

He served as a County Court judge until 2018 dealing mostly with criminal trials in the Crown Court. He was the Recorder of Londonderry from 2008-2011 and continues to sit as a Deputy County Court judge and as a Parole Commissioner.

2. The terms of reference can be viewed at the publication section of this website

3. All media enquiries to the Review team should be directed to 028 9026 1394

4. For all other media enquiries contact the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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