A freedom of information request was recently answered An Garda Síochána’s National Diversity and Integration Unit (GNDIU), the unit tasked with the implementation of hate speech laws in Ireland. The request sought to understand the financial upkeep, organisational role, and manpower, of the GNDIU; and to find the number of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ reported under the recently revised Garda PULSE regulations regarding so-called hate crimes.
By and large the FOI was refused with only the units manpower disclosed due to retrieval concerns by the administrating officer who stated that such requests into the organisation, financing and educational material used to support such a garda unit would prove to cause “a substantial and unreasonable interference with or disruption of workload by the GNDIU, by reason of the volume of records involved,” under Section 15(1)(c) of the FOI Act 2014.
The information was withheld because An Garda Síochána has only been subject to the FOI Act since April 21st 2008. Under the FOI Act, information can be withheld as per section 2, which is under the “effective date” thus anything prior to 2008 from An Garda Síochána can be withheld from public knowledge.
From the FOI we can ascertain that there are currently three full-time members attached to the Garda National Diversity and Integration Unit, with two sergeants and one clerical officer. The unit has never exceeded four members of staff since its inception.
However, there are Garda Diversity Officers who are separate from GNDIU which work “as divisional resources, primarily, (though not exclusively) attached to Community Policing Units throughout the country.” These officers are not full-time ‘Diversity Officers’, but there are 281 Garda members and Sergeants who have received additional training in the area of ‘diversity and cultural awareness’ under the ‘Diversity Officer Portfolio’. Purportedly in order to deal with minority and diverse communities as required during the course of their normal duties as Guardians of the Peace. These 281 Garda officers are also supported by a diversity inspector in every division around the country.
Alongside this FOI, the Burkean reviewed a recent video by An Garda Síochána, who spoke at a Zoom meeting hosted by the Irish Immigrant Council (IIC). This meeting detailed the extent to which GNDIU operates, its cooperation with anti-racist NGOs, and the criteria acceptable for reporting a ‘hate crime’.
The aim of the unit is to emancipate migrant communities by enabling more reporting of ‘hate speech’. Current studies from the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) argue that such crimes are underreported. In 2019 An Garda Síochána published a report called the ‘Diversity and Integration Strategy: 2019-21;’ the report lays out their definition of a ‘hate crime’ (revised from the 1970-80s), including the addition for a ‘non-crime hate incident’. On the latter, the PULSE system now allows for the formal recording of non-crime hate incidents, incidents which do not necessarily meet the threshold of a criminal offence. However, regardless of it meeting the threshold, it is vital that all incidents are recorded and treated with equal measure, so that data can be collected and inform future INAR reports and policy.
In the video the An Garda Síochána officer stated:
“We work off a very low threshold of perception. That is, if it is perceived by either you, a victim, a family member, a friend, or somebody else acting in your best interests. If you perceive that you have been a victim of racism, that is sufficient for An Garda Síochána to take that report from you. We are obliged to do that. The issue of investigation and prosecution is a different matter, and obviously we would need further evidence to gather that. But to take a report, we are obliged to do that. All we need is your perception.
There is also a mandatory hate tick-box on all PULSE incidents now. And that then triggers the selection of one of the nine discriminatory motives that are included in our hate crime definition. So it allows for much better and more accurate recording and account of what has happened. […]
You must always report racism, even if it might seem trivial to you. Sharing anti-racism on social media is important for raising awareness and we may see it during our online monitoring, but it doesn’t alert us officially, as it needs to be reported to us.”
An Garda Síochána have also helped to establish a national diversity forum alongside INAR, stating that: “INAR are there to oversee and monitor the implementation of the Diversity and Integration Strategy and make sure we’re doing what we’ve said we’re going to do.”
Furthermore, there is also an online platform on the official Garda Síochána website, ready to be launched this March, for reporting hate-crimes. It will start in conjunction with An Garda Síochána’s hate crime awareness week.
This is a third avenue for reporting hate-crimes coupled with other reporting services provided by INAR and the IIC, all of which will help collect data on the prevalence of racism in the Republic of Ireland. Finally An Garda Síochána alongside their HR department are “committed to encouraging the recruitment of diverse and minority groups because this will encourage people to report to the Garda if there’s more representation”.
In light of the information above I believe there can be no doubt in the ideological direction the Irish State has moved towards. No more is there an objective to maintain institutions such as the an Garda Síochána and the defence force, Óglaigh na hÉireann, as non-political and safeguarded from overt ideological interference. Today they are being observed and instructed down to the last letter by unelected and often socially liberal NGOs who do not and will not share a conservative outlook. They possess great power in helping to form the social fabric of the nation.
In Ireland there is a rush by anti-racist organisations to gather as much hate reports as possible, no matter how trivial. As in the garda’s own words, in order to berate and scold the Irish population on how racist, xenophobic and insular our nation is. There will be clashes between nativist and multicultural rhetoric, but I do not subscribe to the order that this country is by wholesale a prejudiced land.
The Irish are a peaceful people, yet there is an effort by academia and established media to tie Ireland to our supposed colonial history, as if it was orchestrated by Gaelic institutions and the Irish people en masse. I digress, the coming hate speech legislation which will accompany an Garda Síochána’s diversity unit was not drawn up overnight. It will go far over what our previous and practical criminal hate speech laws had already enacted. They are directed towards ‘protected categories’ of individuals, those deemed to be a minority in Ireland.
This sets up a legal posture from the outset, in that these laws are not necessarily presented for the protection of all individuals, but instead are there to act as a shield for certain categories of persons. Our police force is to be politically maneuvered and encouraged to act as ideological repressors for left-wing control over what is deemed ‘hate speech.’ If an individual has intent and personally directs vile slurs onto a particular person or group, they would have been reprimanded, regardless of these developments. The altercation would simply be a breach of the peace, or a verbal assault, if blatantly derogatory words were used in a manner that was not for constructive discourse.
The biggest irony around hate speech legislation is that our politicians championed the removal of the 1937 blasphemy laws in 2020 which aimed at safeguarding any religion from defamatory “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter”. They argued it was against freedom of speech and that such a law was from a bygone era yet now they are drafting a secular form of blasphemy law dubbed as hate speech.
Glancing towards the UK which has emboldened its police force to become PC enforcers, and here in a country which has no actual conservative voice within the political establishment. I then look on at these obviously ideologically motivated developments cautiously; (as if the formal names of such units weren’t enough – The ‘National Diversity Unit’).
When critical rhetoric is eventually used between those belonging to ‘protected categories’, then who will be the arbiter of what discourse is unwarranted hate and what is genuine criticism? When ideologically charged individuals and groups collide in disagreement, who shall be judge? Particularly in a world engulfed by identity politics will the discourse on national identity and the future of Ireland become impossible.