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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Cabinet to consider plan to repeal Ireland’s Censorship of Publications Act

New proposals to repeal archaic censorship laws are due to come before Cabinet today.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will seek Cabinet approval to draft legislation that would allow for the Censorship of Publications Act to be repealed.

Under the proposals, books and periodicals banned by the Censorship Board, which was established in 1930, will be removed from the existing register of banned literature.

However, it is understood that some books, which contain criminal material, will remain banned under separate legislation.

Ms McEntee is proposing the repeal as there are existing provisions in place to deal with the circulation, possession, and publication of illegal materials.

It would also not prevent the prosecution of individuals for possessing or publishing child abuse material or threatening material.

Since the Censorship of Publications Board came into effect, more than 12,000 books and periodicals have been banned.

Ireland has received criticism internationally due to its censorship laws, with reviews being undertaken by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Also at Cabinet today, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan is due to seek approval to accelerate the development of the Adare Bypass in Co Limerick.

It comes after three judicial reviews against the road project were withdrawn earlier this year.

It is understood the plan to accelerate the development of the bypass is to ensure that it is complete ahead of the Ryder Cup, to be held in Adare Manor in 2027.

The bypass is one element of the 33km Limerick to Foynes project which is due to connect the port with motorways near Limerick City.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is to seek Cabinet approval to expand the voting franchise for the Seanad, with the creation of a new six-seat Higher Education constituency.

This constituency would replace the existing NUI and University of Dublin constituencies, where at present only people who graduated from Trinity College or a National University of Ireland college, including UCC or UCD, can vote

The change would allow any graduate over the age of 18 who holds a degree from a designated higher education institution to vote for candidates in the new Higher Education constituency.

A referendum to extend voting rights to all third-level graduates passed by 92% in 1979, but no reform took place. In more recent years, a series of legal challenges were undertaken, with the Supreme Court ruling in March that the Government needed to enact the referendum result.

Additionally, Tánaiste and Defence Minister Micheál Martin is to update Cabinet ahead of the publication of the Implementation Plan for the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces.

The implementation plan is due to set out the overall timetable for delivering on recommendations within the report.

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