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Dublin City Council directs 'The Question of the Eighth' event be cancelled at literature festival

The event in question was due to be held on Monday 21 May – four days before the Eighth Amendment referendum.

File photo
File photo

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has been criticised after it directed that an event involving writers who contributed to a book about repealing the Eighth Amendment be cancelled.

The event was a panel discussion featuring prominent artists and advocates who had contributed to a recent anthology entitled Repeal the 8th. Participants had been invited to discuss the concept of protest art and their approach to writing about the body and autonomy.

It was being held as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin, which is due to take place between 19 and 27 May.

The event in question was due to be held on Monday 21 May – four days before the Eighth Amendment referendum.

The event – titled The Question of the Eighth – was being held on the back of the publication of the anthology, which was published in April.

The anthology is a collection of writing and works set around the topic of female reproductive rights and the Eighth Amendment. It is edited by Irish Times writer and columnist Una Mullally.

In a statement, Mullally criticised Dublin City Council over the cancelling of the event.

“Today I was informed that Dublin City Council requested that the International Literature Festival Dublin cancel my event at the festival – The Question of the Eighth,” Mullally said.

“The festival had to comply as DCC funds the festival. I am obviously extremely disappointed personally, but this is bigger than just disappointment.

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

Mullally said that it was a “ridiculous situation that writers cannon speak about a book and their writing at a literature festival”.

She also clarified that she has “absolutely no issue with this excellent festival, and all the great people working on it”.

I am asking Dublin City Council to reverse their decision, and also whether the Council has instructed speakers at the festival not to talk about the referendum, which would obviously amount to censorship.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said:

“Unfortunately, this event has had to be cancelled at the request of Dublin City Council, who fund and manage the Festival,” the spokesperson said.

“As with other Public Bodies, Dublin City Council cannot use public funding to support any side or appear to support any side of a referendum campaign.

“Council officials are also bound by the Code of Conduct for Local Authority Employees to remain politically impartial.

Scheduling this event as part of a council-funded festival was considered to be inconsistent with the obligations on the council and its officials.

The spokesperson apologised to the event organisers and to those who bought tickets – saying that they will be refunded.

On the festival page for the event, a statement says that it is cancelled, but that it may be rescheduled at a later date.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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