Motion to abolish strict censorship laws

Ireland’s strict system of censorship of books that has banned such leading literary figures as John Steinbeck and D H Lawrence may finally be coming to an end.

Edna O'Brien

Irish Republican party, Fianna Fáil have proposed that the Irish Republic’s Censorship of Publications Board be abolished.

Fianna Fáil see the board as a throwback to a century ago, with moral standards that are out of step with modern attitudes.

It has also become largely irrelevant because it has little control over modern day technology such as the internet, smartphones and kindles which can make banned material easily available.

The board was originally set up after the Censorship of Publications Act in 1929, when religion was still a major influence in government and society. The role of the board was to censor any publications deemed obscene, but it is widely regarded that it has took its role too far.

‘Fiercest literary censorship this side of Iron Curtain’

Countless authors have been banned by the board over the years, including literary giants DH Lawrence, John Steinbeck and Brendan Behan.

Edna O’Brien’s award winning novel The Country Girls was banned, even though its contents seemed tame by the standards of most other countries.

The board always held strict Roman Catholic values and critics have accused them of taking an over-protective view on publications about sex and marriage.

Family Planning – A Guide for Parents and Prospective Parents was issued by the Irish Family Planning Association in 1976, but was branded obscene by the board and banned. Books such as How to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed and The Complete Guide to Sex have also been blacklisted due to their content about abortion.

Renowned poet Robert Graves once accused the board of “the fiercest literary censorship this side of the Iron Curtain”.

Nial Collins of Fianna Fáil is the man leading the motion to have the board abolished. Speaking to the Irish Independent he said: “It’s an archaic, redundant body which has not had any use from 2008. The fact that no new board members have been appointed since 2011 is a testament to the fact that the board has outlived its use.”