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16 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 53 (1998)
Censorship of Indecency in Ireland: A View from Abroad

handle is hein.journals/caelj16 and id is 59 raw text is: CENSORSHIP OF INDECENCY IN IRELAND: A
VIEW FROM ABROAD*
JEROME O'CALLAGHAN**
I. INTRODUCTION
At first glance, the Irish regime of free speech does not appear
to have a place for indecent material. The Irish Constitution
shares some of the liberal features of its American counterpart,1
but a deep division appears on the question of fundamental rights.
Unlike the stark imperative of the First Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution, the Irish guarantee of free expression is explicitly
qualified, not once, but twice. First, this guarantee is made subject
to public order and morality.'2 Second, the guarantee is limited by
this provision:
The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of
such grave import to the common good, the State shall en-
deavor to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the ra-
dio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty
of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall
not be used to undermine public order or morality or the au-
thority of the State.
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or
indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in ac-
cordance with law.3
The limitation of free speech in such broad terms is not the
only way in which the Irish Constitution differs from the American
model. Ireland's Constitution establishes a parliamentary democ-
racy,4 presupposes a homogenous Catholic culture,5 evokes the
greater goal of social equality by establishing limits on the use of
* An earlier draft of this paper appeared as part of the Working Paper series published
by the Institute of European Studies at Cornell University.
** Jerome O'Callaghan, Associate Professor of Political Science, S.U.N.Y. Cortland; Civil
Law 1978, University College Dublin; J.D. 1981; Incorporated Law Society Dublin; Ph.D.
1988, Syracuse University.
1 Both are premised on the principle of government by consent of the governed. Both
seek to create governments of limited power, divided into three specialized branches.
Both contain an explicit Bill of Rights.
2 IR. CONST. art. 40, § 6.
3 Id.
4 The Lower House of Parliament (Dail) has unquestioned supremacy over both the
Upper House and the Presidency. See Id. arts. 15-28.
5 The imprint of Catholic ideology is discussed in Part I infra

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