Hate crimes and related incidents increased by more than 80 per cent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2020, according to Garda figures.
In a presentation at Garda headquarters on Wednesday, assistant commissioner Paula Hilman said the force had received reports of 238 hate crimes or non-criminal incidents – including online harassment or hate speech – in the first half of this year, up from 129 in the same period last year.
She did not believe the increase was connected to the pandemic but rather that people were increasingly prepared to report hate-motivated incidents and crimes. Nevertheless, she believed the figures were a significant “under-reporting” of such crimes.
Ms Hilman was speaking as the force announced details of a new online portal for people to report hate crimes and incidents.
Accessible from Wednesday at www.garda.ie, the portal will, it is hoped, make reporting of crimes motivated by hatred of a person's skin colour, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, perceived or actual age, gender or sexual orientation, easier. This should, said Ms Hilman, make hate crime "more visible" as an issue.
"We understand that not everyone wants to go to a Garda station to make reports. This facility gives victims the opportunity to report non-emergency incidents to An Garda Síochána. I would urge anyone who feels they have been a victims of a hate crime to report it to us."
She stressed it was neither necessary to have detailed supporting evidence to report via the portal nor to make a formal statement. Though all crimes would be investigated, reporting would also enable the Garda to offer other supports including referral to other specialised agencies.
The portal is part of the Garda diversity and integration strategy 2019-2021. Leaflets about it are available in 19 languages, either to download at garda.ie or from Garda stations.