Taoiseach Keen To Update Legislation To Tackle Hate Speech


Tackling online hate while defending free speech is a tricky balancing act. So says the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who adds that Ireland’s laws are under review to rein-in those who incite hatred.

He also added further that he hopes legislation will be updated in 2020 to tackle growing concerns about hate speech as the laws currently in place were drafted before online broadcasts and social media.

However he stressed it’s a “tricky area” to legislate for. “Our plan is to update that legislation – but we’re going to need to work with the opposition and work with the public on getting that right.

“It is a hard one to get right – to balance free speech, and also making sure that people who incite violence and hatred don’t just get away with it without being in any way accountable at all. I’m somebody who strong believes in a free speech, believes in a free press, and believes that you have the right to offend as well.

“There is of course a huge difference between saying something that’s nasty and something that actually incites violence or incites hatred… writing that down in law, that’s a very tricky piece of work to do.”

The issue of racism was also discussed by the Taoiseach , admitting that the spectre of bigotry isn’t terribly far from his door owing to his own ebackground. Hos father is originally from Mumbai and married a Waterford woman. He even admitted that he has had to point out to some people that he is Irish!: “You’d be surprised the amount of people in the last couple of days who’ve heard I’m visiting India with my family and asked me when am I going back to India.

 An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – Twitter

“I was born in the Rotunda – I’m not from India.” However, he added: “I’ve a good life… I’ve done well… I have very little to complain about, much less so than other people who I’m sure experience the kind of racism that I never have, or the kind of homophobia that I’ve managed to avoid.

“I don’t like to engage in complaining about it or any self-pity, because I think that’s direspectful to those who’ve experienced the kind of racism that I can never imagine, or the kind of homophobia where their families have turned their backs on them.”