Kerry anti-LGBTQ+ library protest condemned at European Parliament meeting

MEP Grace O'Sullivan described the recent incident at Tralee Library as an attack on literature.

Inside the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The image shows a large room with curved rows of seats and curved white walls.
Image: Wikimedia Commons: Diliff

At a European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday, September 14, Irish MEP Grace O’Sullivan condemned a library protest that took place in Kerry in July. The Munster Green Party representative blamed ongoing “far-right campaigns” for the recent crusade against certain anti-LGBTQ+ books, which she described as an attack on literature.

Specifically referencing the incident in Tralee, she stressed that Kerry people have always been proud of their literary heritage. “But Ireland is no stranger to controversy,” she noted. “Remember that Brendan Behan and even Edna O’Brien had their books banned in Ireland.”

O’Sullivan continued: “Thankfully, we have moved past those days, and we will not allow extremists like those who barged their way into Tralee Library to bring us back to those darker days.”

The episode to which the MEP is referring to occurred on July 13, when a group of violent anti-LGBTQ+ protestors stormed a drag storytime event at Tralee Library in Kerry. While children were listening to a story read by Butch Chastity and Miggeldy Bubbles, the demonstrators entered the building and started shouting that it was “immoral to read filth to children”. This went on for several minutes before Gardaí intervened.

This is just one example of several similar incidents that have occurred in Ireland over previous months, including in cities such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

O’Sullivan’s comments on the Kerry library protest came in coincidence with the European Parliament adopting a new report on the future of the region’s book sector, which passed by a vote of 513 in favour to 11 against. Aiming to defend libraries facing attacks, it deemed that these facilities should be “safe and welcoming spaces where a wide diversity of viewpoints are respected”.

The report also aims to defend independent bookshops from online giants and improve young people’s access to literature, as well as calling for more supports for publications in minority languages such as Irish.

“This report we passed today is a celebration of our book culture and a rallying call to defend our libraries and bookshops,” O’Sullivan concluded.


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