Government would be 'very wary' about regulating referendum posters

Government would be 'very wary' about regulating referendum posters

A former Communications Minister says the right to free speech has to be considered when deciding whether to regulate referendum posters.

There has been criticism of some of the statements and images on posters for the abortion referendum, but there is no legislation governing false or misleading claims.

The laws that do exist only relate to littering and things like incitement to hatred or violence.

Pat Rabbitte says if controls were tighter it could be perceived as censorship.

Mr Rabbitte said: "People can make assertions and they can be rebutted or not, but I think it's rare that you'd find the kind of poster that we are seeing around at the moment.

"It is rare that you'd find the kind of issue. You saw it in 1983 and, to some extent, you saw it in the divorce referendum.

I think Government would be very wary about intervening.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the former Labour leader said authorities have to be extremely careful about regulation, as free speech has to be protected.

“When it comes to taste it is a very difficult area,” he said.

“It doesn’t frequently arise that people are offended by the actual content of posters and I think to intrude or be prescriptive would invite cries of censorship in a contentious campaign like this.

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