Department of the Taoiseach

10/13/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/13/2021 04:47

Countering Contemporary Antisemitism and Other Forms of Racism Online and Offline

Delivered by Taoiseach Micheál Martin for the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, on the theme of "Remember ReACT"

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Thank you for the introduction Folke, and Jonathan for your thought-provoking presentation.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured and grateful to join you today to reaffirm Ireland's commitment to Holocaust Remembrance, and to combatting antisemitism.

76 years after the end of the Holocaust, we remain inspired by the survivors, and we rededicate ourselves, not just to remember, but also to renew our legal and moral commitment to react.

Hate speech has endured through millennia, periodically inflamed by the rhetoric of extreme nationalism; religious intolerance; racism; and the desire to scapegoat.

In the context of the Holocaust, which we remember today, it was enabled by the silence of leaders who ignored the reality until it was too late for six million Jewish people, and millions of other victims who were persecuted and murdered due to their ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliations, or beliefs.

Today, old prejudices and hatreds are being re-animated - now through new technologies and ever-evolving platforms.

We are experiencing a surge in 'misinformation' and disinformation, an increase in antisemitism and other religious hate speech- and we are ever-vigilant for the insidious and creeping denial of the Holocaust and other genocides.

Today, the growing trend in online hate speech, compounded by conflict, racism, misogyny, even COVID-19 pandemic misinformation, threatens our fundamental aspirations under the UN Charter, to safeguard human rights and achieve fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

Indeed, the principles and proper functioning of democracy itself are under sustained attack.

As outlined in our pledges, the Government of Ireland that I lead is fully committed to countering these threats.

Through our proposed Hate Crime Bill, we will introduce new legislation to combat incitement to hatred and hate crime in Ireland, online and offline.

This will introduce an offence of inciting hatred against another person or group due to characteristics including race, religion, ethnic or national origin.

It will also create a new offence of denying, or grossly trivialising, crimes of genocide, including Holocaust denial.

We will publish a new National Action Plan on Racism including measures to combat antisemitism, antigypsyism and other forms of racism.

And we were pleased to recently join with other countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council in signing a joint statement pledging to combat anti-Semitism.

It will surprise none of you when I say that education remains the most important tool we have to tackle prejudice and hatred. But education is not just for our children, it is also for their teachers and for all of us.

In Ireland we will deliver revised curricula and teacher training on the Holocaust, that will contribute to promoting overall equality and diversity.

Before I conclude, let me recall Ireland's National Holocaust Memorial Day in January. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were denied the opportunity to meet in person, but the online commemorations allowed us to reach a new and larger audience.

This example of the positive role the internet can play is a reminder that, with appropriate regulation, the online space can be a helpful platform for remembrance and for action. It can help us as we commemorate the Holocaust and as we educate the public to fight against antisemitism and racism.

As I reaffirmed to the people of Ireland last January, Ireland is absolutely committed to Holocaust remembrance, and to fighting the scourge of antisemitism and racism.

It is only through remembrance and education, that we can strive to ensure that nothing like the Holocaust can ever be allowed to happen again.