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.
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.
Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022
Free Speech Ireland would like to establish our position on the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 and raise our concerns over the risk that this bill poses to people’s right to freedom of expression. We are concerned that ill-defined and unclear aspects of the bill will result in limitations being placed on people’s right to freedom of expression and that this is an unproductive use of Garda resources. We would like to draw the attention of Irish legislators to Sections 7 through 11 in particular.
Section 7: Establishes that a person may be found guilty of an offence if the person “communicates material to the public or a section of the public” . This not only opens an individual to prosecution for personal statements made, but also for the sharing of content on social media, even if published by another user in a separate country or jurisdiction. Part 3 of this section states that “it shall be a defence to prove that the material concerned or, insofar as appropriate,” if the contribution is considered “genuine” or “reasonable”. These are vague and subjective criteria that may see an individual fined or imprisoned for up to 5 years.
Section 8: Broadly covers the communication of material relating to genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Similarly however, Section 8 fails to make provisions for the sharing of material published by another individual or entity. It opens a person to prosecution for sharing of historical articles or news items that may not reflect the contemporary views of Irish society. Furthermore this could also affect the communication of material from a foreign culture or country where world views may differ to our own.
Section 9: Under this section a person may be found guilty irrespective of whether communication of material or behaviour was successful in inciting another person to violence or hatred. This would penalise individuals as a result of gross speculation.
Section 10: The possession of material which is not considered “reasonable” or a “genuine contribution” shall be an offence. As with Section 7, these are subjective criteria and are deeply concerning as the bill does not establish what is considered a “reasonable” or “genuine contribution”. It is vital that lawful expression is not restricted by the Government.
Section 11: There is a concerning limited and ill-defined “Protection Of Freedom Of Expression” afforded by the bill in Section 11. This section is no more than four lines, and does not establish clear protections for Freedom of Speech.
Conclusion: We recommend that legislators reject the bill in its current form. Irish legislators should take steps to expand protections against harassment rather than broadly restrict the speech of all individuals.
The Irish government has published the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 as of the 27th October 2022, with full intention to pass the legislation by end of year.
It is imperative that you contact your local TD and ask them to vote against this bill.
If you reside in Meath East please find the contact details of your local TD’s below: