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New Bill to Repeal Century Old Censorship of Publications Act Proposed

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has obtained government approval to repeal the Censorship of Publications Acts.

The decision follows a review undertaken in the Department to Justice on the continuing need to have censorship provisions for printed publications.

Following the examination, the Censorship of Publications Board and the related Appeal Board are also to be stood down.

Minister McEntee said, “in the almost one hundred years of the censorship of publications legislation, there has been a dramatic shift in social policy and societal values in Ireland. The legislation to be repealed was published in 1928 and enacted in 1929. As it stands, the law allows for the censorship and prohibition of books, and of magazines, journals and newspapers that are considered indecent or obscene, or devote disproportionate space to crime.

“We have now come full circle and repeal of the Censorship legislation will reflect the reality that the Censorship Boards are of limited relevance in a modern society. Their mandate is largely unenforceable given the legislation’s dated principles and the focus on physical printed publications. Several significant amendments have already been made to the Censorship of Publications Acts, including changes to allow the publication of information on contraception, abortion and divorce. Repeal would mark another chapter in moving on from parts of Ireland’s past that no longer have a place in the present.”

The Register currently contains nine books with the earliest dating back to 1942 and the most recent from 2016.There are currently 264 prohibited periodicals dating from the earliest in 1930 to the most recent in 2003.

Minister McEntee said, “I want to be clear that repeal will not impact on the prosecution of offences for possession or publication of child abuse material or for circulating threatening or abusive material. Rather, it is being done on the basis that there are other sufficiently robust statutory provisions in place to deal with these offences.”

“There has been a particular focus in my Department on this point, which will continue as Heads of the Bill are drafted. There is also a continuing need for effective regulation of on-line content as provided for in the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022.”

With significant groundwork already done, work on the heads of the Bill will proceed with a view to bringing them to Government in 2024.

The Department will ensure that specific plans are put in place to archive important records of national historical and cultural value and to carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment on the storage of the records.


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