Full speech transcript:
I will start in that place. This motion is very important but the tapestry of legislation the Government is introducing in this area is also very important and very welcome, such as the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill, the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. These things are very important and show we are acting. This motion and the opt-in are very important because a lot of the hate speech, hate organisations and far-right organisations are organising on a European-wide level, so we need to work together at a European level to push back against them.
What we see on our streets here is an emboldened far right, organisations driven by racism and hate which are much more open and much more open in their activities and in the language they use. We have seen the assaulting of left-wing activists on the streets, calls for the lynching of Ministers based on who they are, calls for deportation, and protests arguing for the deportation of Irish people who do not fit narrow, often racially motivated, definitions of what it is to be Irish. We have seen arson attacks against Deputies who have stood up for people in direct provision. None of this is acceptable, yet it continues with this emboldened far right. We have seen an exploitation of Covid and the lockdown, using people’s genuine fears and concerns and exploiting them to continue to build a far right hate organisation and organisations in this country. We have seen the Institute of Strategic Dialogue talking about the far right building layers of lies using Telegram and other platforms. The Irish Network Against Racism, INAR, has spoken about the Irish far right fake news industry adding to racism in this country. We therefore need to pass these bits of legislation. We need to opt into this in order that we can work together to push back against the growing, more aggressive and more organised far right hate organisations in this country that are actively on the streets and pushing their aggressive, racist, violent agenda.
Equally, while there are those who are trying to pull us apart and trying to pull society part, and these pieces of legislation are very important in stopping them doing that, there is a responsibility on all of us to ensure we are pulling people together more quickly than they can pull them apart. This legislation will help that because it will slow down the pulling part. However, in the communities, organisations, clubs and societies in which we are involved, we have a responsibility to ask whether we are being welcoming, reaching out and being inclusive. When I was still a scout leader, I was involved in a pilot project trying to reach out to young people in direct provision. It is things like that, where we are building the tapestry of a modern Ireland quicker than those who are hell bent on tearing it apart, even if that is by violence, and we do not let them tear us apart or turn us against one another. As I said, this needs to be a Europe-wide thing, so I am very glad the Minister is bringing this and the other Government legislation before us.