Free Speech Ireland Spokesperson Sarah Hardiman has announced a campaign in Meath East to raise awareness of the threat the proposed Hate Speech and Hate Crime Bill poses to Freedom of speech.
Speaking today, Ms. Hardiman said “Less than five years after the Irish people voted to expand freedom of speech in the blasphemy referendum, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is looking to restrict those freedoms again under the guise of the Hate Speech and Hate Crime Bill. This is an affront to our basic civil liberties and freedoms”
Ms. Hardiman Continued “From a Scottish comedian being arrested in 2018 for teaching his dog to raise its paw to the command “Sieg Heil” to a Canadian man being jailed for calling his biologically female child his daughter, wherever hate speech legislation has been implemented, it has been abused. The potential for Hate Speech legislation to be used as a baton against political opponents is also significant. In the past few years alone both French and Dutch politicians have had cases taken against them on the grounds of hate speech. Already in Ireland politicians have signalled their interest in using this legislation to censor political opponents”
Speaking on March 9th, during a Dáil debate on a European commission proposal regarding hate speech, Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe said of a minor Irish political party:
“If its members believe they have a right to speech, they will have less of a right to make their statements when we sign up to this [European Commission proposal], because any form of rallying people or inciting hatred in that regard will be illegal,”
“This cuts to the very heart of our democracy. Dáil privileges protect the freedom of speech of politicians. Yet the government is trying to take away the very same right from the Irish people. As this government staggers from crisis to crisis, we cannot allow it to curtail our right to freedom of speech. Free Speech Ireland recognises this as one of the greatest threats to the civil liberties of the Irish people in the history of the state. Because of this, we are committed to leafleting Meath East to raise awareness of the threat that this poses to our democracy.” Concluded Ms. Sarah Hardiman.