Hate speech bill ‘on the rocks’, says political analyst

A showdown within Government is expected on hate speech legislation that could result in the bill being shelved, according to a leading political analyst.

The Irish Times’s Political editor, Pat Leahy reports that sections of the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary parties are “dead set against” the hate speech elements of the bill, despite the Green Party saying it remains a “key commitment in the Programme for Government.”

One Government insider is reported as saying that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael TDs and Senators are “near unanimous” in there opposition and there will be “uproar” if it’s pushed forward.

“This law will not be enacted,” the source told Leahy. “The question is how much harm the parties will inflict on themselves before accepting that.”

Concerning the substance of the bill, Leahy said he has repeatedly asked what the bill would make illegal to say in future that it is not currently illegal, given that there is already legislation criminalising incitement to hatred.

He reports that no answer was forthcoming.

He also noted that Senator Michael McDowell has asked the Department of Justice “what is intended by the term ‘transgender’ and the phrase ‘a gender other than those of male and female’” in the definitions of the Bill. That also has been left unanswered.

Leahy commented: “It would be hard, I promise you, to overstate the lack of enthusiasm in Government for a debate on how many genders there are”.