In late April, an event entitled ‘A Question of the 8th’, which had been scheduled at the International Literary Festival Dublin (ILFD) for May 21, five days before the referendum on the repeal of the eighth amendment in Ireland’s constitution, was cancelled after the festival’s core funders, Dublin City Council raised objections.
It was announced by the queer author yesterday that it will now take place as a standalone event in Smock Alley Theatre on the same date. Mullally will be joined by the original line-up of Elaine Feeney, Tara Flynn and Emmet Kirwan, all of whom contributed to the anthology.
The cancellation of this event is one of a number of recent censorships in the artistic community in the debate on the Eighth Amendment.
This has been met with criticism from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties who said it was concerned at the “chilling effect” of decisions to remove Maser’s Repeal mural at the Project Arts Centre and to drop Mullally’s panel at the ILFD.
Council executive director Liam Herrick said: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental right in any free society and artistic freedom must be afforded the highest protection. The role of the artist in challenging power and orthodoxy is the very lifeblood of our cultural life.”
While it was necessary to regulate election spending, “under the Irish Constitution, freedom of speech is not equivalent to freedom to buy advertising or column inches,” he said.
Dublin City Council has said that it is prohibited under new guidelines introduced to the Charities Act back in February from giving financial support to events that involved the referendum campaign.
Most recently, a number of arts organisations withdrew their invitations to Grace Dyas and Emma Fraser who are currently touring with their theatre piece Not At Home.
The gallery at the Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork pulled out of the event at the 11th hour citing the guidelines laid out by the Charities Regulator saying they did not want to “become a focus for such controversy or be seen to be advocating for one side”.
The Question of the Eighth at Smock Alley Theatre is on Monday, 21st May at 8pm. Tickets from €10, book here.
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