Alliance calls for action on hate crimes

In response to Judith Maas, who asked if Alliance believed new laws against sectarianism would be successful, in the same way as workplace equality laws have been, Deputy Alliance Leader Eileen Bell said:

“Alliance called for Hate Crimes legislation dealing with sectarianism to be introduced here in June 2000. Unfortunately, others do not seem to share our sense of urgency on this, despite the Secretary of State’s commitment to introducing such legislation last October.”

“Among other things, hate crime legislation would mean that offences, such as pipe bombings, arson attacks or even murder motivated by sectarianism, could be dealt with more severely by the courts.”

“Hate crime legislation could potentially keep offenders behind bars for longer, but also, importantly, it would send out a strong signal that society will not tolerate offences driven by sectarian hatred.”

“Fair employment legislation played a major role in driving home the message that sectarianism would not be tolerated in the workplace, and, when necessary, employers have been prosecuted.”

“Alliance wants that message to be taken from the factory and office to the streets. We don’t permit racial discrimination in the workplace, and the Crime and Disorder Act means crimes driven by race hatred are punished more harshly in Great Britain.”

“So if tough legislation can be implemented there to deal with race hatred – which has similarities to sectarian hatred – and in Northern Ireland to deal with sectarianism in the workplace, there is absolutely no reason to believe new laws can’t work in other areas too.”

“It’s just a pity that the Government has stalled on this fundamental issue of dealing with sectarianism for so long.”


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