Let's Get Freedom of Speech in Ireland

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Freedom of speech is the very essence of freedom and liberty in western civilisation. It’s how we spread ideas, debate topics and ultimately come up with the best solution for some of the most controversial topics of our times. It allows us to be intellectual honesty, talk about different ideologies and how we can better our democracy through searching for the truth.

However, with the rise of corruption in the Irish government and the distrust in it by its people, there is something we have to realise; freedom of speech in Ireland doesn’t exist, it has never existed and the threat of never having freedom of speech will be imminent in the upcoming referendum in October later this year.

Minister Charles Flanagan announced that in October, the Irish public will decide as to whether blasphemy laws under Article 40.6.1i shall be repealed or retained. With that said, we should be pushing for freedom of speech to be implemented into our constitution.

Under Article 40.6.1i, we are given the right to “express freely their convictions and opinions” which includes government policy. The State also ensures the “rightful liberty of expression” for the “the radio, the press” and “the cinema”. So that part there is fine. This is essentially part 1 of freedom of speech taken care of. However, the second paragraph which is being currently debated about states that the “The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious and indecent manner shall be punishable in accordance with the law”. This is a great example of doublethink. In one paragraph, the State guarantees the right for the press to criticise the government while in the second paragraph, the State can punish you for “indecent manner” which could mean absolutely anything and result in horrible misinterpretations in the future.

The second piece in our laws regarding free speech is the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.  People can be punished with up to two years in prison and a maximum of a 10,000 euro fine if they are found guilty of saying something in which “hatred would be likely to be stirred up”. This is another very frightening piece of wording due to the fact that if the act is altered or misinterpreted (in particular with the term "insulting"), it leaves a big window of opportunity for strong hate speech laws to be introduced.

This type of hate speech law has not been used or manipulated similar to Canada with Bill C-16 or in the UK with their heavily exploited and broad hate speech laws where people have been arrested and fined for telling jokes, but there is a possibility that it could happen here in our homeland.

 For these reasons, it is time that we ask members of the Dáil to come together and discuss the following:
• an amendment which will abolish the State's interference with the right to freedom of speech
• guarantee the Irish people the right to freedom of speech
• revision of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.

Please sign the petition and help get freedom of speech in Ireland!

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