The Government has backed a plan to draft legislation that would repeal the Censorship of Publications Acts.
The decision follows a review undertaken in the Department to Justice on the continuing need to have censorship provisions for printed publications.
The department said that, after the examination, the Censorship of Publications Board and the related Appeal Board would also be stood down.
There have been no members appointed to the board since the last terms of appointment lapsed in November 2021. The Appeal Board has been defunct since 2012.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (pictured) said that there had been a “dramatic shift” in social policy and societal values in Ireland in almost 100 years of legislation on the censorship of publications.
She added that the repeal of the legislation, which was published in 1928 and enacted in 1929, would reflect the fact the censorship boards were “of limited relevance” in a modern society.
“As it stands, the law allows for the censorship and prohibition of books, and of magazines, journals and newspapers that are considered indecent or obscene, or devote disproportionate space to crime,” the minister said.
The Register of Prohibited Publications currently contains nine books, with the earliest dating back to 1942 and the most recent from 2016. There are currently 264 prohibited periodicals, dating from the earliest in 1930 to the most recent in 2003.
‘Robust’ provisions for child-abuse material
Minister McEntee said that the move would not affect the prosecution of offences for possession or publication of child-abuse material, or for circulating threatening or abusive material.
“Rather, it is being done on the basis that there are other sufficiently robust statutory provisions in place to deal with these offences,” she stated.
The department said that “significant groundwork” had already been done, and that the aim was to bring the heads of the bill to Government in 2024.