Citizenship ceremony judge calls for hate-crime legislation

Vacuum being filled with far-right ‘infiltrators’, particularly online, says McMahon

There have been several recent high-profile incidents of racism  including online death threats made against   Fiona Ryan and Jon Mathis, who appeared in a Lidl advert. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

There have been several recent high-profile incidents of racism including online death threats made against Fiona Ryan and Jon Mathis, who appeared in a Lidl advert. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The judge who officiates at citizenship ceremonies has called for new legislation to combat hate crime amid increasing reports of attacks on minorities.

Judge Bryan McMahon, who retired from the High Court in 2011, also said a lack of Government consultation on the housing of asylum seekers seems to be creating a vacuum which is being filled with far-right “infiltrators”, particularly in the online sphere.

“I don’t use Facebook. I’ve kept pure of that so I’m blind to a whole lot of stuff that goes on. But I’m told it’s terrible,” he told The Irish Times.

Mr McMahon, who chaired a working group on the direct provision system which accommodates asylum seekers, said there has been a “big rise in hate speech”.

“I wasn’t fully aware it is as bad as it seems to be. We do need to set up some kind of committee to investigate it fully. We need new legislation and accurate information to tell us how bad it is.”

There have been several recent high-profile incidents of racism in Ireland including online death threats made against a mixed-race couple last month who appeared in a Lidl advert. Also last month, Independent TD Noel Grealish said that Africans arriving into Ireland were economic migrants “sponging off the system” while addressing a public meeting in Oughterard.

Although not mentioning Mr Grealish, Mr McMahon said the developments in Oughterard were “sinister and upsetting”.