23 November 1999

CENSORSHIP OF PUBLICATIONS BOARD ENDURES


Ireland continues to employ its Censorship of Publications Board (CPB), a body created in 1929, reports Michael Foley in his article "In Dublin's Fair City," in the latest issue of Index on Censorship (vol 5, 1999). Created on the recommendation of the Committee on Evil Literature, the CPB, "hidden from public scrutiny," has been "quietly banning away for years," states Foley. Publications banned by the CPB include works by James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Walter Macken, Sean O'Faolain, Edna O'Brien, Kate O'Brien, and John McGahern.

Most recently, the Board banned a magazine, "In Dublin," for being "frequently or occasionally indecent or obscene," states Foley. When "In Dublin" publisher Mike Hogan applied for a judicial review of the decision, the High Court revealed that the magazine had not been banned for its articles or photographs as presumed. Rather, the Board had censored the magazine due to some of the advertisements contained in it for "massage parlours, helath clubs, sex chat lines and call girls." The court ruled that the ban would be lifted as long as the magazine did not continue to publish these advertisements. Foley states that the ruling stands in stark contrast from the way in which most democracies normally handle these types of cases.

Since this court ruling, the Irish government has introduced an inquiry into censorship and pornography in magazines, films and on the Internet, reports Foley. It has not, however, unveiled any plans to address or repeal the censorship laws and the CPB.




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