A Minister of State has said people "shouldn't be able to" post threats or racist messages online with impunity.

Speaking on Prime Time, Neale Richmond said Government has strengthened legislation, including the passing of the Online Safety Bill.

"This is giving real powers to intervene where social media companies are not acting," he said.

He said social media companies faced "extremely major" fines of up to €20m or 10% of turnover.

Mr Richmond added that there were 42 criminal offences covered under racism in Ireland.

Speaking after a report on anti-immigration protests, he said legislation alone could not address the problem without cooperation with social media companies and the EU, as well as increasing the ICT budget for gardaí.

"This is on the rise," Mr Richmond said.

The Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said social media companies, many of which had their European bases in Dublin, would "suffer very badly" if they did not comply.

Mr Richmond said there was a new policing plan in place and that protesters were being arrested.

"This is a very small number of people who are coordinating, using online tools. Many of these people were active in anti-Covid-19 restriction protests. We know who they are," he said.

Asked about reports of a disparity between areas accommodating asylum seekers, the Fine Gael TD for Dublin Rathdown said that "could be the opinion" but the availability of properties had to be looked at.

Mr Richmond said asylum seekers had been accommodated in his constituency.

Responding to a rising number of anti-immigration protests, the founder of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, said the people in his organisation deals with do not feel protected.

On the same programme, Lucky Khambule said social media was feeding people "wrong information".

"We've seen people live reporting to us that they have been attacked and they have fear over what is happening to them," he added.