Ireland has one of the highest rates in the EU of hate crime against people of African descent

Campaigners are calling for the urgent introduction of hate crime legislation in Ireland.

It comes after a new report warned that the country has one of the highest rates in the EU of hate crime against people of African descent and transgender people.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said the absence of clear legislation means the criminal justice system is failing to properly record it when it happens.

It said the absence of legislation has led to a “policy vacuum” in relation to crimes motivated by prejudice in Ireland.

ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said the Government has failed to bring forward legislation, “even though it does have international obligations to do so.”

“This is an Irish report but it is part of a wider European project which analyses how hate crime is reported and recorded across Europe,” he said.

“What we find in the Irish study is that hate crime – which is not defined in Irish law - is not recorded or reported in a systematic fashion.

“We really have a very underdeveloped response to what is a serious problem in society.”

The report found that the hate element of a crime is filtered out of the criminal justice process from the point at which a victim reports a crime to the point of sentencing.