Censorship of Publications Act Regulations—Motion to Annul.

Debate resumed on the following motion by Senator Kingsmill Moore.
That the Regulations entitled Censorship of Publications Act, 1946, Regulations, 1946 (Statutory Rules and Orders, 1946, No. 254) made by the Minister for Justice on the 6th day of July, 1946, under Section 20 of the Censorship of Publications Act, 1946 (No. 1 of 1946) and laid upon the Table of the Seanad on 16th August, 1946, be annulled.

I should like to apologise to the House for what must have appeared a gross discourtesy in not being present to move the motion standing in my name on the last occasion. There was a mistake about the time at which the motion would be reached. I was assured that the motion could not come on before 5 o'clock and I, certainly, could not be here before 4.30. Owing to the way in which the business of the House was dispatched, the motion was reached before 4 o'clock. I apologise for not being present. Secondly, I should like to thank the Minister for Justice for meeting, in my absence, the main reason for which this motion was put down—an alteration in the rules to allow members of the Oireachtas to appeal to the Appeal Board in cases where a book has been banned without lodging six copies of the book. In deference to Senator O'Donovan, who took a considerable part in the original debate upon the Bill, I should explain the necessity for this alteration of the rules. When the Bill was being debated, it was suggested that English publishers would be anxious to flood the Irish market with books of a type which would not appeal to the Censorship Board. Indeed, it was suggested that I myself was either a bought tool or an innocent agent in furthering such a project. As a matter of fact, the Irish market does not matter in the very least to the English publisher. That is proved by the fact that, in the year in which this Act has been in existence, although there have been over 1,000 books on the banned list, the English publishers did not think it worth their while to appeal one single book.

It was left then for members of the Oireachtas to try to appeal a certain number of books, so as to save them for the Irish public. When I tell you that books written exclusively about Dublin by St. John Gogarty and by James Joyce with an enormous sale in America had been banned and that the Irish people could not get even the books written about their capital city unless members of the Oireachtas stepped in, you will see it was a necessary and onerous job for many of us to try to preserve for the Irish public part of their own history as well as part of their own literature.

We were faced with the position that, up to a fortnight ago, no English publisher, because the market was not worth while, had appealed a single one out of 1,000 books. It was left to us, and we had the aid of professors and judges of literature, to make a list of about 100 books out of the thousand, which we thought most suitable to be reconsidered. Obviously, it was quite impossible to get six copies of the books already banned. Incidentally, the original Censorship Board had already copies of these books in its possession and, therefore, it was only necessary to alter the rules, so that members of the Oireachtas might be able to submit those books to the Appeal Board without having to find, in a short time, six copies of each book, which were legally unprocurable. The Minister has altered the rules and met me in every respect on that point and I would like to express my thanks to him.

There is one other point, which I would have raised if I had been here, namely, the question of the form provided for a person sending in a book to the original Censorship Board. In that form, it is laid down that he calls attention to certain passages. The Minister may reply that, even though members of the board are provided with books with passages already marked in them, no doubt they read the books. No doubt they do, but it is an invitation to be work shy. For instance, if a jury were presented with the evidence with certain passages marked, one would not have very much faith in the industry of the jury in considering all the other portions of the evidence and coming to a fair and impartial verdict.

I will conclude with this last remark that, so long as the form has that provision, that the complainant calls or may call attention to certain passages to which he objects, no Irish public is going to believe that the book is fairly, impartially and thoroughly considered, or have any faith in the judgment of a board which operates on a book which has been tinkered with in that way.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.5 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, 13th March, 1947.