To ask the Minister for Defence whether his attention has been called to the following statements in an editorial in the Irish Times of September 21st, viz.: “(1) It appears, however, that a sort of censorship, which we know not whether to describe as military or civil, still exists; (2) The newspapers have been ordered on several occasions during the past fortnight to omit passages from reports which their staffs had prepared in the ordinary way; (3) One of these reports concerned the alleged treatment of Republican prisoners; (4) Another contained the evidence and verdict at an inquest in Dublin”; whether there is any truth in the allegations marked (1), (2), (3), (4); if so, by whom, with what authority, and for what purpose were these orders given; and what, in fact, were the statements suppressed?
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - PRESS CENSORSHIP.
(1) The censorship over the Press has not been removed. It has been relaxed practically to vanishing point.
(2) The various newspaper proprietors have been given to understand that at the present time, when the propagandists and distortionists are busy, material will come their way, the publication of which is not compatible with general public safety, and they have been instructed that while general proofs need not be submitted to the Censor, matter about which they have any doubts should be submitted to him.
(3) Usually, if it comes to notice through any one source, that material is being circulated for publication that it is in the public interest to prohibit, a general instruction with regard to this matter is issued to all papers. Five such instances have occurred during the past fortnight.
(3a) The matter referred to in point No. 3 consisted of untrue and inflammatory statements made at a meeting of the Dublin Corporation regarding the treatment of prisoners.
(4) The matter referred to in paragraph 4 was statements made at the inquest on P. Mannion, who was killed in Dublin on September 17th.
Generally, the censorship is imposed by Government authority, on the advice of the Minister of Defence.
Is the Minister quite sure that the newspapers have got an intimation to which he refers, because I am quite sure they have not?
Enquiries will be made into the matter, but no newspaper has been advised that the censorship over the Press has been relaxed or removed.
Does the Minister then put us in this position, that a kind of semi-censorship is in existence? Previously, when the censorship was fully in existence, everybody connected with newspapers knew exactly what to do and where they stood, as they had got to submit everything that went into the papers. Now the Minister says the censorship has not been abolished, but relaxed to vanishing point. Here we find a very respectable organ, the Irish Times, pointing out that the vanishing point is not so vanishing as the Minister would make out, because here were reports sent in and censored actually. There is no vanishing point about actual censoring. I want a reply to that question, to ask the Minister if he knows that on the 21st, I think, a footnote appeared to a letter in the Irish Times—and I am not concerned about the letter, but about the note—to the effect that the military summarised one of these reports. I think it was the one referred to. If we have a censorship, let us have one.
That is comment clearly.
The fact that from newspaper offices reports are passed on in particular cases to the Censor for him to see before publication is evidence of the fact that the proprietors understand the situation. The actual cases of such censorship within the past fortnight have been five.
I intend to move the motion of the Minister for Defence.
The motion is in the name of the Minister for Defence.
Is there any objection to my moving it?
I do not think so.