A damning report on hate crime in Ireland is being 'urgently reviewed' by the Justice Department.
The report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) warns that Ireland has one of the EUs highest rates of hate crime against people of African descent and transgender people.
It warns that Ireland does not have adequate hate crime laws, adding that the absence of clear legislation means the criminal justice system is failing to properly record it when it happens.
It also said the absence of legislation has led to a “policy vacuum” in relation to crimes motivated by prejudice in Ireland.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says he wants to address the findings with new proposals, and says the current legislation is already being looked at.
"Hate motivation for crime results in vulnerable groups and individuals being targeted simply for who they are," he said.
"That is not acceptable to me or the Government, and I know that it is not acceptable to the Irish people."
ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said the Government has failed to bring forward legislation, “even though it does have international obligations to do so.”
“This is an Irish report but it is part of a wider European project which analyses how hate crime is reported and recorded across Europe,” he said.
“What we find in the Irish study is that hate crime – which is not defined in Irish law - is not recorded or reported in a systematic fashion.
“We really have a very underdeveloped response to what is a serious problem in society.”
The report found that the hate element of a crime is filtered out of the criminal justice process from the point at which a victim reports a crime to the point of sentencing.
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissioner, Emily Logan said: "Hate Crime has a real-world, oppressive and damaging effect on those who fall victim to it.”
“Hate Crime can cause people to withdraw from society and avoid expressing their identity.
“When unchallenged, hate crime carries consequences well beyond the immediate victim. It has the power to act as a ‘message crime’ – the ability to send out a message to an entire community – to warn off those who stray from the norm.”
She said the State has a responsibility to send a clear message to society that hate crime will not be tolerated