Cancel Culture is Back at DCU

The Dublin City University Debate society (@DCUDebate) was set to host a debate on March 27th, ‘Where Does the Blame Lie for the Arab-Israeli Conflict?’. Two days before the debate, featuring Clare Daly MEP and Prof. Mark Humphreys, it was called off by the society.

Although the society cited logistical shortcomings, emails leaked to FSI show university staff calling for the cancellation of the debate:

Mail sent to DCU Debate

Dear Society,

I am writing on behalf of a group of staff members across several faculties and departments in DCU. We learnt that your Society organised a debate on the current war on Gaza, to be held on March 27th, featuring four speakers. We would like to express our concerns regarding the presence of our colleague Mark Humphreys as one of the speakers.

In the past, our colleague has been criticised for jeopardising the safety and welfare of DCU students. You may not be aware that in 2021, DCU denounced a post written by this colleague on the anti-racist movement BLM, officially distancing itself from the words and views of this person ( ). DCU former student Ibrahim Halawa talked about how much this staff member impacted on his wellness and mental health ( ). Our colleague has been at the centre of campus life for his opinions and views, and students have repeatedly denounced such views as “racism” and “Islamophobia” ( ). We respectfully wonder why a student society would want to platform someone who has been identified as problematic and damaging by other students.

While our primary concerns focus on the safety of the students, we also wonder if the framing of the debate actually reflects the reality of the data that we receive on a daily basis from Gaza and of the international law, or if it only serves the purpose of inflaming a debate which, we are afraid, will hardly be respectful.

We strongly believe in the transformative power of debating and thinking together, when the integrity of the views exposed and the safety of all participants are guaranteed. We do not think that this is one of those occasions, and we urge you to reconsider the opportunity of holding this debate in these circumstances.

Best regards,

Aisling Twohill, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Audrey Bryan, School of Human Development

Beatrice Scutaru, DCU, School of History and Geography

Caitriona Ni Cassaithe, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Catherine Baker, DCU Anti-Bullying Centre

Eamon Costello, School of STEM Education, Innovation & Global Studies

Eileen Culloty, School of Communications

Ellen Howley, School of English

Erika Biagini, School of Law and Government

Eugene McNulty, School of English

Faraj Elammari, Information Systems Services

Hussam Achour, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Jenna Harris, School of Theology, Philosophy & Music

Joe Usher, DCU, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Justin Rami, School of Policy & Practice

Maria Barry, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Marie Flynn, School of Human Development

Mathias Urban, DCU Institute of Education, Early Childhood Research Centre

Niamh Gaynor, School of Law and Government

Paola Rivetti, School of Law and Government

Peter Tiernan, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Ronaldo Munck, Director of the Centre for Engaged Research

Rowan Oberman, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Shadi Karazi, DCU Business School

Reply from DCU Debate

Dear Paola,

We are disappointed to have received this email from you and we as a society have lost respect for all staff who have signed off on this.

First of all this debate is about the conflict as a whole which as you have been keen in the past to remind people has a longer history than October 7th and the current Gaza Campaign.

You have expressed that you believe in debate and that this opposition to the event is purely due to opposition to Mark Humphrys. You and other colleagues were invited to participate or provide input and none of you expressed any interest in doing so.

The hypocrisy is shocking from someone who was happy to share a platform with Richard Boyd Barrett TD who has made many heinous statements regarding the conflict in Ukraine and a USI representative who at your BDS DCU event engaged in anti semitic language by saying and I quote “The presence of a Jewish student or academic legitimises the apartheid state.”

As a society we are committed to the free expression of all ideas no matter our personal views on them. To claim you believe in the transformative power of debate while trying to censor one is a questionable statement.

We had expressions of support from actual Palestinians on our campus for hosting this debate and believe it is not the place of those with little connection to the conflict to dictate how it may be discussed.

Universities are to be institutes of learning and the free expression of ideas as such we feel you have lost any right to our respect or to be called academics.

The DCU Debate Society Committee

This is not the first time Prof. Humphrys has been the focus of ire at DCU: after expressing opinions about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter on his blog in 2021, students and academics campaigned for him to be sacked.

Following the cancellation of the debate, an unofficial debate occurred on the 27th in a pub near DCU. Speakers on either side of the motion, including Prof. Humphrys, were in attendance, with the exception of Clare Daly. Further leaks revealed that the society’s activities for the rest of the year have been frozen. It is unclear yet whether those involved in the debate will be, or have been, penalised by the University.


Press Release: “Bin The Bill” Campaign Launched

FSI Press Release Monday, January 15th 2024


‘Bin The Bill’ Campaign Launched Against Irish Hate Speech Bill

Free Speech Ireland (FSI) is proud to premiere our new campaign, entitled ‘Bin the Bill’, to raise awareness about the Irish government’s looming plans for onerous anti-free speech legislation. The campaign has already attracted international attention from public figures such as Elon Musk.

Across Ireland our message will be displayed on billboards and social media platforms informing the Irish public of the threat that hate speech legislation poses to their right to free expression.

Sarah O’Reilly, CEO of FSI, said:

“The public needs to know about how this bill will affect them and their democracy. ‘Bin the Bill’ aims to do just that. We hope that when citizens take notice of what is happening, TDs and Senators will too.”

“The government’s proposed hate speech regulations are the single biggest threat facing free speech in Ireland today. Helen McEntee’s legislation threatens to criminalise individual citizens for the mere possession of material deemed to be offensive, even if they had no intention of sharing it with others if they cannot prove this to be the case. This innocent until proven guilty framework is fundamentally incompatible with the principles of our democracy.

Worryingly, this bill is likely to also impact freedom of speech across Europe and even the world, as it will make social media firms like X and Meta beholden to Irish censors. We have seen with the likes of GDPR how such companies will frequently apply laws passed in Europe to their worldwide user base. While we are encouraged by statements from digital leaders such as Elon Musk promising to protect free speech online, this bill nevertheless represents an international threat on numerous online platforms.”

As part of this media campaign, our spokespeople will be available for interviews and clarifications and can be reached at


The Board
Free Speech Ireland
15 January 2024


  • Free Speech Ireland (FSI) is a free speech advocacy group founded in 2018 to protect the constitutional right to free speech against corporate censorship and state hate measures.
  • As part of its civil society outreach FSI has hosted events with multiple members of the Oireachtas, academics, activists and cultural events, most recently with our September 2023 conference “Ireland Uncensored”
  • The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 (“the Bill”) is at the third stage of the Irish Senate and would give the state the right to seize personal electronic devices and prescribe prison sentences for those guilty of hate speech or deemed to be in possession of hateful material, even if they had no intent on distributing it. This could undermine the presumption of innocence.
  • FSI believes the Bill undermines freedom of speech in Ireland, allowing for individuals to be prosecuted for perceived hate speech on politically-motivated grounds. The perception of hatred by a third party could also suffice for prosecution.
  • FSI has been campaigning against the Bill since 2022,  demanding the complete withdrawal of this Bill. We welcome the implementation of greater guarantees for freedom of speech in Ireland. This is especially important as Ireland is the European HQ for many social media platforms. Laws that restrict freedom of speech in Ireland could impact online users globally.

Event Announcement: “Speech Regulations in 2024”

Free Speech Ireland and Academics for Academic Freedom are proud to announce an informative evening on Tuesday, 23rd of January in Dublin City Centre. Speakers are yet to be announced.

2024 is set to be an exceptional year. Governments across the Western world are reviewing centuries-old rights in the face of the information age, and Ireland has found itself as a focal point in it all.

Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Book on TicketTailor


IRELAND UNCENSORED and the Hate Speech Bill

With a sold-out event and 100’s on the waiting list, it is clear that #IrelandUncensored was a momentous success. Despite this resounding demonstration from the Irish public,

Helen McEntee’s plans to push through the Hate Speech Bill when the Seanad resumes on Wednesday, 20 September.

Speaking to Gript Media our Spokesperson, Sarah Hardiman, had the following to say,

“ At the time when this law hit the Seanad, senators were very cognisant of the public’s concerns … Today’s event was about really making sure that come the end of the summer recess, that they are still listening to the public. ”

During a panel discussion on the Censorship Industrial Complex, Michael Shellenberger said that the Hate Speech Bill was “the worst law I have seen in my entire career of working on political issues”.

Laoise de Brún of The Countess provided a deep-dive of the Hate Speech Bill and the EU Directive “that apparently compelled the government to introduce this bill”.

She had the following to say about Section 10 of the Bill:

Gript’s Ben Scallan stressed the importance of raising our concerns with our political representatives, “when a politician knocks on your door […] make it known to them that censorship is something you’re worried about.”

The livestream of the event can be watched back here:


FSI & Gript Announce Major Event

SAT 16 SEP, 12:30 – 17:00


With the government’s recently published “Hate Speech” Bill proving to be the most controversial piece of legislation in recent Irish history, many are deeply concerned over the state of free speech and encroaching censorship in our country.

In response to this legislation, Free Speech Ireland and Gript invite all to attend a conference and seminar featuring a variety of expert speakers who will explain why this censorship is happening, where it is coming from, and what we can do to defeat it.

Speakers include:

  • Michael Shellenberger – Author and Public Relations Professional
  • Niall Boylan – Radio Presenter and host of The Niall Boylan Podcast
  • Helen Joyce – Author and Journalist
  • Kevin Sharkey – Artist and former TV Presenter
  • John McGuirk – Editor of Gript
  • Senator Sharon Keogan – Irish Independent Senator
  • Ben Scallan – Broadcaster for Gript

More speakers to be announced.

Doors open at 12:30pm with event set to conclude at 5pm.

Freedom of Speech is a human right fundamental to the functioning of any true democracy, all attempts to take this right away must be emphatically rejected.


Concert Hall, RDS, Dublin 4



Intolerant Ireland: The Cancelling of the THINK LOCAL Festival

Sarah Hardiman is the spokesperson for “Free Speech Ireland”, a group advocating for the protection of freedom of speech, expression and assembly in Ireland.

The past fortnight in Ireland has seen “cancel-culture” reach a new and frightening precipice as an Irish sustainability and rural-life festival, “Think Local”, was shut down due to vociferous lobbying of left wing activism. 

A self-professed “antifa” activist took credit for the event’s demise and called an event organiser to boast at their success in destroying an event that took several months to plan. The festival was due to host subject matter experts in areas such as medicine and psychology, as well as academics of various disciplines.

What was the perceived danger of a group of individuals hosting, amongst other things, a family- friendly BBQ, food-growing workshops and childrens’ face painting? The answer is simple: community. 

In a multi-polar Ireland, we have embraced people of various beliefs, political persuasions and lifestyle choices. All of these aspects of life vary in Ireland and, naturally, community binds people of similar outlooks to support and strengthen one another. The premise of “Think Local” appears to have clearly been such an event. How could an event focusing on small businesses and sustainability issues, such as home-grown food and independent  farming, pose any kind of harm to Irish society and its many diverse subcultures?

Ireland is marked as one of the most tolerant, inclusive and welcoming societies. So, why then are we seeing a distinct rise in “intolerance”? We are undeniably witnessing the rise of intolerance and strengthening authoritarianism, namely by means of the impending Hate Speech laws. An attack on free assembly of citizens is an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

The proposed Hate Speech Bill is causing a significant raucous within the government ranks, particularly in the Seanad. Also, at the recent Young Fine Gael summer school attendees passed a motion opposing this bill. 

Young Fine Gael should be commended for their decision to challenge their party’s failures in introducing this bill. This bill will attack these freedoms directly.  At the heart of freedom of expression, is the freedom of people with whom you fundamentally disagree, or even personally dislike, to hold opinions and values you may find offensive and repugnant. That is the essence of true freedom and tolerance; a point lost on our current Minister for Justice and other members of the government who insist that this law is somehow demanded by the public or necessary for the safety of the Irish people.

Who will be stewards ensuring the efficacy of the Hate Speech laws? Ireland’s NGO sector, which receives billions annually from various government grants and schemes. The sentiment of the activist responsible for the cancelling of the “Think Local” meeting mirrors the policy lobbying of the Irish NGO sector. This sector has had enormous influence on the Hate Speech Bill, particularly in its attempt to codify identity politics into Irish legislation by giving priority to people of specified characteristics should they perceive offence from anyone for any reason. If our laws impinge on the freedom to disagree or collectively organise, we risk reverting to a time marred with institutional overreach, true suppression of minorities and criminalising people of goodwill. 

The cancellation of the “Think Local” festival is proof that discriminatory lobbying of private groups and individuals can successfully impede the guaranteed freedom of expression. The private and NGO sector of Ireland is flexing its influence, power and intolerance of those who simply don’t engage or are unaffected by the interests they promote. This cancellation will no doubt be counted amongst their victories. 

If you support the idea of bringing your children to a drag-queen story hour because you value the LGBT community, or are a member thereof, why oppose story-telling at a rurally based eco-focused event? It might be due to the fact that you simply insist on your view of life being imposed everywhere you see fit. That is the essence of intolerance. Who is anyone to demand any festival, seminar, lecture or meetup kowtow to your religious, political or cultural preferences? It echoes the McQuaidist regime of 20th century Ireland. 

The Irish public certainly cast off the authoritarian control of free speech restrictions when the blasphemy laws were repealed by popular referendum in 2018. Ireland has made it clear: we are unafraid of cultural, political and social diversity and wish for it to thrive freely in all varieties of association and speech. We also protect this right in Article 40.6.1 of the Irish Constitution.

If cancel-culture continues in its tirade, unchallenged, the NGO sector will be the arbiters of what constitutes peaceful assembly and association. The attack on the “Think Local” festival will be repeated, businesses will be intimidated and bullied into cancelling good-faith customers and communities will experience a chilling effect. 

We have come far as a nation in shaking off former state, church and institutional powers that failed us in this manner. Community power and freedom of association made it possible for Ireland to emerge from the corruption, restriction and hypocrisy of Ireland’s ancien régime. It would be a disaster to see a return to that at this stage of progress and  liberty in our society.

This article is a repost from

Fact Check

FactCheck: Fine Gael claim Hate Speech Bill will only criminalise “extreme” cases

Section 9 of the Hate Speech Bill begins by stating,

A person may be found guilty of an offence under section 7 or 8 irrespective of whether the communication of material or behaviour [of] the subject of the offence was successful in inciting another person to violence or hatred

As such, speech or material that would be criminal needn’t even incite hate. Furthermore, given Section 10, material needn’t have even been communicated to be criminal; it need merely be possessed.

From Sections 9 & 10 it is clear that the scope for criminalisation in the Bill encompasses non-extreme cases. As such, the claim that the Hate Speech Bill will only criminalise “extreme” cases of hate speech is false.

This is one of several claims made by Fine Gael and their representatives since the introduction of the Bill that downplay the severity of its role.

The various Fine Gael representatives who have been passed the mantle of Sponsor of the Hate Speech Bill have adamently expressed that the Bill will only criminalise “extreme” cases, despite the Bill itself includes no reference to the same. Deputy James Browne, who received responsibility of the Bill from Minister Simon Harris, expressed the following while defending the Bill in a Dáil debate:

“Only the most severe types of speech that constitute incitement to violence or hatred would be criminalised under the Bill.

Discussion of protected characteristics, including criticism of matters relating to protected characteristics, is not a crime unless it crosses the line into incitement to violence or hatred.”

Since progressing from the Dáil to the Seanad, the Bill has come under heavy scrutiny, and an earlier sponsor of the Bill, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, has retaken the mantle as its defender.

Speaking to Newstalk over the weekend, McEntee made sweepings claims about the Hate Speech Bill in an effort to placate the public,

“There will still be an ability for people to discuss and to criticise protected characteristics.”

“This is not about policing people’s thoughts or opinions and genuinely held beliefs”

These renewed claims about the Bill come on the heels of a contentious Seanad debate, in which support for the Bill in its current form was low. McEntee and Fine Gael senators have spent much of their speaking time asserting that the Bill in its current form is not extreme in nature, while admitting in the same speeches that the Bill does not define “hate” deliberately so as to boost conviction rates.

During the debate Senator Barry Ward expressed that freedom of speech is protected by Section 11 of the Bill.

Section 11 of the Bill, the “Protection of freedom of expression”:

For the purposes of this Part, any material or behaviour is not taken to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics solely on the basis that that material or behaviour includes or involves discussion or criticism of matters relating to a protected characteristic.

Section 11:
material or behaviour is not taken to incite hatred solely on the basis that it includes discussion of protected characteristics

Effectively, this section states that speech should not be criminalised solely because it references sensitive topics. In other words, it states that it will not necessarily be illegal to speak about certain topics, which is a far cry from the rigorous protection for freedom of speech the section is made out to be by Fine Gael.


Hate Speech Bill Press Conference

Free Speech Ireland are hosting a Press Conference in Buswells Hotel this Thursday along with numerous Irish Senators opposed to the Hate Speech Bill. We invite all members of the press to attend.

Email us at if you wish to be on the guestlist.


Letter to the President Campaign

Paddy Holohan encouraged members of the public to send letters to Áras an Uachtaráin and post themselves doing it with the hashtag #lettertothepresident.

Paddy Holohan, an independent councillor for South Dublin County Council, has voiced concern with the government’s Hate Speech Bill, and has encouraged people, families, and communities to contact their local representatives to voice their opposition to legislation which is being passed without mandate.

The constitutionality of the legislation will be considered by President Michael D. Higgins, who should scrutinise the law with consideration for the provisions for freedom of expression laid out in Bunreacht na hÉireann. If he doubts it’s legality, he must send it to the Supreme Court to examine it. By sending letters to Áras an Uachtaráin, public pressure can be mounted against the legislation which threatens to restrict freedom of expression in Ireland for the sake of the Irish government’s political expediency.


Hate Speech Bill Deep Dive

A Free Speech Ireland Spokesperson joined The Jist for a deep-dive on the Hate Speech Bill and it’s historical context