Civil rights group calls on Govt to repeal censorship act

Civil rights group calls on Govt to repeal censorship act
Irish Council for Civil Liberties chief executive Liam Herrick.

The threat of censorship that hangs over artists and writers must be removed once and for all, according to civil rights activists.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will tomorrow be called on to repeal the Censorship of Publications Act so as to "liberate the arts in a modern-day Ireland".

Backed by historians and artists, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) will make the call for an end to censorship in all its forms.

The campaign launch, the Best Banned in the Land event, is part of the Dublin: One City One Book festival. It comes a year after the forced removal of a Repeal the 8th Amendment mural at the city's Project Arts Centre, an order by authorities which sparked public outrage.

In a message ahead of the campaign launch, ICCL chief executive Liam Herrick said: “Artistic expression, because it resonates at such a deep level, should be protected and facilitated by the State.

"This includes via state support of artists who face barriers such as gender, economic status or race. Artists should feel that the State is not only allowing their work to flourish, but actively promoting it and they should feel empowered to claim that from the State.

"Any act of censorship is counter to this obligation and the State should make every effort to repair damage done by it.”

In 2018, the charities regulator ordered the removal of a pro-choice mural at the Project Arts Centre. A separate order in 2016 saw city authorities argue the mural breached planning regulations. One writer last year also had her talk on abortion at a literature festival cancelled.

Other guest speakers at the launch tomorrow include Declan Long, a programme director at the National College of Art & Design; Project Arts Centre artistic director Cian O'Brien; poet and barrister John O'Donnell; and Lian Bell who is a director for a campaign for women working in theatre.

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