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A Yes poster in Dublin. Eamonn Farrell/
literary festival

Council won't reverse cancellation of Eighth Amendment book event in spite of councillors' vote

The Council has said it can’t be seen to be using public funding to support either side.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has said it will not reinstate an event involving writers who have contributed to a book about the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The event, a panel discussion, was to feature prominent artists and advocates who contributed to a recent anthology entitled Repeal the 8th.

It was being held as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin, which is due to begin this Saturday. The event in question, titled ‘The Question of the Eighth’, was due to be held next Monday – four days before the Eighth Amendment referendum.

Confirming the cancellation of the event last month, Dublin City Council said it could not use public funding to support any side or appear to support any side of a referendum campaign.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Strategic Policy Committee yesterday morning, and People Before Profit Councillor John Lyons introduced an emergency motion calling for the event to be reinstated at last night’s full monthly meeting of the Council.

The motion called on the council to reverse its move and to acknowledge the “disquiet expressed by many Dublin writers and artists that this decision sets a dangerous precedent for intellectual discourse and artistic freedom”.

The motion was passed, but a senior council official told the meeting that the local authority was not in a position to change its stance because of the legal situation.

Speaking this morning, Lyons insisted the Council was interpreting its legal obligations in the area far too broadly and said the decision could have major implications for artists and events that receive funding through the local authority into the future.

Literary events like this month’s festival may have to be funded “at arm’s length” from the Council in future, as a result of the decision, he said, with other organisations providing the majority of the funding.

Irish Times writer and columnist Una Mullally, who edited the anthology of writing, said she was extremely disappointed by the Council’s initial decision.

In a statement last month she said:

Why is art and culture reflecting discourse around women’s rights being shut down?

Mullally said that it was a “ridiculous situation that writers cannot speak about a book and their writing at a literature festival”.

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