Dublin City Council Bans Poster In Blatant Act Of Political Censorship


In a statement, the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) has condemned as an "outrageous and blatant act of political censorship, the decision by Dublin City Council to refuse permission to the anti-war organization to erect posters advertising a protest against the visit of George Bush to Belfast, due to take place in this Monday June 16th. The poster advertised the Belfast protest, which will take place at Belfast City Hall at 12.30pm on Monday June 16th and the details of buses that will travel from Dublin to the protest.

The IAWM notified Dublin City Council (DCC) in the usual manner required of its intention to erect posters advertising the protest on June 10th. Under normal circumstances, any organization notifying DCC of their intention to erect posters receive an email from a Council official with in a day or two confirming permission to do so.

This is line with the current Council policy on posters that requires advance notification before posters advertising public meetings or demonstrations are erected.

However on this occasion, five days after notification was given, DCC replied to the IAWM with an email from an official who signed the message only "Clare", without any surname, that the Council were refusing permission for the poster to be erected.

The email stated that "permission will not be granted...as it is felt that it may be perceived as offensive by members of the public."

The Irish Anti-War Movement regard this decision a completely unacceptable act of political censorship and intend to defy the Council ban and erect the poster anyway. The IAWM say that if there is any attempt to fine their organization for erecting the poster they will refuse to pay the fine.

The IAWM will hold a street protest tomorrow, Friday June 13, at 12 midday at the GPO, where participants will have gags on their mouths to symbolize the attack on free speech by DCC. The IAWM will also hold a protest street meeting and public defiance of the poster ban on Saturday June 14th at 12pm at the GPO. 

Richard Boyd Barrett, chairperson of the Irish Anti-War Movement said:

"This is a truly outrageous and blatant act of political censorship by Dublin City Council. It is simply incredible that DCC are attempting to deny the right to free speech and therefore interfere with the right to freedom of assembly in this way.

Of course, this ban has to be seen in the wider context of several attempts by the Council since the huge anti-war protests in 2003 to ban posters advertising political meetings and demonstrations.

It is becoming increasingly clear that at very high levels in officialdom and government there is an agenda to suppress any political activity or protest that questions US foreign policy, in particular.

This ban should also be seen in the more recent context of the decision by then Justice Minister, now Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan to refuse entry to the country to Lebanese journalist Ibrahim Moussawi to speak at an Irish Anti-War Movement conference in Dublin earlier this year.

Newspaper reports at the time of the Moussawi decision, indicated that the ban resulted following contact with the government by the US and Israeli embassies.

The Irish public should be deeply alarmed that our government is trying to suppress the right to free speech and protest in this way. It also particularly alarming that our government and authorities seem to be suppressing free speech and the right to protest at the behest of the Bush regime.

It is bad enough that our government have allowed one million US troops through Shannon to fight the bloody war in Iraq and that they continue to allow CIA flights believed to be involved in kidnap and torture through our airports, but to now attempt to suppress protest and dissent on these issues is truly shocking.

We call on the government and, in particular Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, to act immediately and instruct DCC to lift this disgraceful ban.

The Irish Anti-War Movement will not allow the government or authorities to silence anti-war protest in this country. We will defy this ban regardless of the consequences and appeal to the public and all those who care about free speech to support us."

For more info/confirmation contact:

 Richard Boyd Barrett 087-6329511