Young Fine Gael has voted almost unanimously to abandon Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s controversial hate speech bill, arguing that the party should focus on issues like violent crime in Dublin instead.
The motion was voted on at the youth wing’s Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School on Saturday, after being proposed by former YFG president Art O’Mahony.
— Eoghan Gallagher (@Eoghan4g) July 22, 2023
“The motion was prompted by a clear reading of the membership that there is no support for such a bill, and that it’s causing genuine concern among our voters,” O’Mahony said, explaining his rationale for ditching the policy to Gript.
“I think the bill should be dropped in its entirety. There was palpable anger in the room at Fine Gael’s misplacement of priorities on justice issues.”
O’Mahony added that the motion “almost passed with unanimity,” and that there was also a “considerable amount of anger” at the “lack of crack down on actual issues on the streets of Dublin.” He said that there was a “worry” within the party that Fine Gael is being “outflanked” by Sinn Féin on such criminal justice issues.
“Many TDs and Senators have privately encouraged this also,” he said, though he voiced frustration that some of these did not speak out more publicly.
The development comes after headlines were made when an American tourist was hospitalised with “life-altering injuries” in Dublin city centre, highlighting what many perceive to be a growing sense of lawlessness in the capital.
US tourist assaulted in Dublin has suffered 'lie-altering injuries', says son https://t.co/yjta6EpGU7
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) July 22, 2023
Just weeks ago a senior Fine Gael TD told Gript that there is “much concern and opposition” to the hate speech legislation behind closed doors among the senior party.
“She seems determined”: Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee is dead set on passing the hate speech bill in autumn, despite “huge concern” within her party, a senior Fine Gael TD told Gript.#gripthttps://t.co/tbGxw8AvaQ
— gript (@griptmedia) July 5, 2023
“My office staff tell me they’re inundated with opposition and worried. They don’t often say that,” the source said, adding: “Replies from Helen’s office are in no way placating people with concerns.” Many other TDs are receiving similar levels of negative feedback, the source claimed.
This week Gript questioned Justice Minister Helen McEntee on the evidence for the public support for her bill, in a video which can be viewed below.
"In what way is this credible?": Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee is asked how activists and government-funded NGOs who have campaigned for hate speech laws for years can be cited as evidence that her hate speech bill is popular.#gript pic.twitter.com/50XiZ7S2t3
— gript (@griptmedia) July 19, 2023