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'Tell me what's offensive about this': Ruth Coppinger holds up Repeal sign in Dáil chamber

Coppinger held up the poster while asking the Taoiseach about the removal of a Repeal mural outside Dublin city’s Project Arts Centre.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

SOLIDARTY TD RUTH Coppinger got a stern talking to by the Dáil’s Leas Ceann Comhairle today after she held up a Repeal sign during Leaders’ Questions.

Coppinger was asking Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about regulations which resulted in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin’s Temple Bar being forced to paint over Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural.

After being removed from the wall in 2016, it returned to the side of the building, located on East Essex Street earlier this month. However, the Charities Regulator issued the centre with a warning last week  that it would risk losing its charitable status if the mural remained.

“I think that it says something about the fear of the Irish establishment in this country that is has allowed these laws to really completely narrow political expression and political art in this way,” the TD said in the Dail today.

“We had a situation in the Dáil where a group of TDs wore a Repeal jumper an in jig time a committee ruled out the wearing of any political slogans.

“I would just like to know what the Taoiseach and others think is so offensive about this that it should be banned by a state body.”

As she continued, both Coppinger and her party colleague Paul Murphy held up posters with the mural’s image on them, as well as the slogan ‘You can take down a mural but you can’t take down a movement”.

And would you agree with me that we should challenge that and we should say no, there’s nothing wrong with a heart that calls for Repeal and we should not allow political censorship?

Coppinger was reprimanded by Leas Ceann Comhailre Pat the Cope Gallagher, who told her:

“You’ve asked me to ensure that I implement the Standing Orders and I also ask you and your group to do the same.”

He later said he may have to take action against the TD, as Oireachtas rules prohibit anyone from displaying a political logo in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Responding to Coppinger’s question about the removal of the mural, Taoiseah Leo Varadkar said the decision had been taken by the regulator and not the government.

“I’ve no doubt that the mural will appear elsewhere, perhaps somebody who owns a private building may wish to make space available for the mural to be reinstated,” he said.

While you can paint over a mural, you certainly can’t paint over an issue and the issue is that nine women every day are forced to travel overseas in order to end their pregnancies and three women every day – and it’s only going to rise into the future – are importing abortion pills and are taking them without medical supervision and guidance, often in their own homes.

He said there is now an opportunity to change that, to “stop turning a blind eye” and face “the reality of abortion in Ireland”.

While he said he did not find the mural in any way offensive, he said he does not think murals or posters are going to change people’s minds.

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