de Faoite urges public to have their say on hate preachers

Séamas de Faoite

SDLP Belfast City Council Group Leader Séamas de Faoite has urged the public to respond to a consultation on tackling hate preachers.

Council has opened the consultation on proposed new bye-laws for the city centre.

The bye-laws are aimed at reducing noise from preachers, loud busking and using amplifiers and graphic imagery.

Councillor de Faoite said:

“We must take this opportunity to help put an end to the regular displays of hate and showcasing of retraumatising images in our city centre and I would urge people to respond to this consultation and have their say.

“It is deeply embarrassing that local families and visitors to our city are being met with these scenes which can feel incredibly intimidating for those targeted with this bile. We have also heard accounts of women and others being deeply affected by the graphic material on display by some groups. Nobody should be subjected to something like this while doing their shopping, meeting friends or enjoying any of the wide variety of activities Belfast city centre has to offer.

“We do not want to be in a situation where council is introducing too much regulation or creating barriers for local musicians or other street performers who contribute so much to the vibrancy of our city centre, but we cannot allow the current situation to continue. The regular hate speech being heard in Belfast is causing considerable damage to our reputation and we have a duty to ensure that our city is open and welcoming to all.

“Alongside this consultation the SDLP is seeking an urgent update on the future of hate crime legislation following a commitment from previous Justice Minister Naomi Long that has yet to be progressed. It’s welcome that council has stepped up and taken action where the Assembly has faltered, but we need to see this legislation progressed to protect people right across the North.”

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