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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Freedom of Speech

Calls for repeal of Censorship Act following cancellation of drag storytelling event

The coalition has called for the act to be repealed “in the name of personal freedom and mutual respect.”

Hole. GlitterHole GlitterHole

A DUBLIN DRAG collective has it was “shocked” by a recent council decision that cited “age appropriateness” as the reason for cancelling a drag storytelling event at a Dublin library.

Earlier this month, an event hosted by Glitter Hole at Deansgrange Library in Dublin was cancelled by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council which originally cited age appropriateness as the reason for its cancellation.

The weekend prior to its cancellation, however, library staff and Glitter Hole members received what were described at the time as “extremely violent” homophobic messages on Twitter in the run-up to the event.

Ahead of today’s campaign launch to repeal Ireland’s Censorship of Publications Act, Glitter Hole founder Beth Hayden told that her group accepted the safety concerns expressed by the Council. “The abuse received online…was quite frightening. But then [the Council's] initial statement was completely at odds with that they were saying.”

The family event was being organised by Glitter Hole which has run Drag Story Time events for children three times previously at various locations, including at the International Literary Festival Dublin last summer. The group has said the response to these events had “always been entirely positive”.

In a further statement to, the Council later clarified that the cancellation was “due to our significant concern at the high level of degrading, inappropriate comments on social media about the performers and library staff”.

Glitter Hole, however, criticised the council’s initial statement about the cancellation of the event accusing it of labeling “queer people the risk in this scenario”.

IMG-20190430-WA0002 Una Mullally and Beth Hayden

Hayden has said the group were “so shocked” by the library’s implication that the content of its drag shows for adults had deemed its performers inappropriate children’s storytellers. “The library made the decision to cancel the event without any consultation with us”.

Following the event’s cancellation, Hayden has said she is “no longer going to take organisations at face value when they say they want to put it on and promote diversity. I don’t necessarily believe them anymore.”

‘Held accountable’

This afternoon, a coalition of Irish human rights and arts organisations called for the immediate repeal of Ireland’s 1929 Censorship Act.

Dublin’s Project Arts Centre and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have launched a campaign aimed at repealing the 1929 Act “in the name of personal freedom and mutual respect.”

“I think conversations around artistic expression and freedom are even more relevant in the wake of what happened with Glitter Hole”,” journalist Una Mullally, who’s involved with the campaign, told

Following an order to remove Maser’s ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural at Dublin’s Project Arts Centre during last year’s referendum campaign, issues around censorship have come to the fore again in Ireland, Mullally has said.

“The conversation around censorship crops up around campaigns,” says Mullally. “But these issues are ongoing and they tend to impact voices that are already perceived as marginalised”.

In 1929, the Irish Government passed the Censorship of Publications Act, which created the Censorship of Publications Board. In 2019, the Board still has the authority to prohibit any book or periodical that they find to be obscene, Mullally has said.

“Ireland has seen ground-breaking referendums on marriage equality, abortion, and blasphemy. Now our coalition is calling for the repeal of the Censorship of Publications Act, in the name of personal freedom and mutual respect,” the coalition said in a statement. 

Instances like the cancellation of Glitter Hole’s storytelling event bring into focus the need to scrutinise decision-making, campaign organisers have said.

“What often happens in these scenarios if that the issue dissipates and disappears. But the decisions that are taken come from somewhere,” says Mullally.

“Anything that is publicly funded or that is any kind of state institution or arts body needs to be held accountable and we need to know why these decisions are made.”

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