By: Bryan O’Shea

Much like leftists in America attempting to reframe first amendment expression to shut down conservative ideas, freedom of speech is also under attack in Ireland. A few months ago, the Irish Justice Minister, Charlie Flanagan, launched a “Public Consultation on Hate Speech” where he invited citizens and NGO’s to make their submissions on the topic. That consultation closes this Friday, December 13th and the Minister will then undoubtedly begin the process of introducing strict laws to criminalise subjectively deemed “hateful” speech.

Much of the push toward the implementation of stricter speech codes stems from a 2017 report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. (ICCL)

If you read the report, you will see that it is little more than a piece of ideological engineering specifically designed to support and push a particular narrative around hate speech and hate crimes.

The report cites ‘hate’ crime figures from the following organisations; Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), the European Network Against Racism – Ireland (ENAR) and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. (GLEN)

There is no explanation for how any of these state-funded NGO’s collect their data, what they determine to be hateful, or if these figures are reliable.

The Irish government has also introduced a new “working definition of hate speech” which describes it as “any criminal offence perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”

Given that the definition is predicated on the individual’s ability to “perceive hostility or prejudice” based on a total of 8 group identities, it is fundamentally flawed. Something as simple as causing offence can be perceived by people to be hostile, so right away the floodgates are open. But, why should we stop at 8 group identities? Is this not placing these group identifying factors in a hierarchical structure of importance and thereby dismissive of the infinite number of other identifying factors?

You can read my full article on the issue here.

That’s not all, John McGuirk – Editor of Gript.ie recently outlined the latest developments in the hate speech saga: “About once or twice a year, the Irish Government and a bunch of friendly NGOs head over to Geneva in Switzerland to report to the United Nations on Ireland’s ‘progress’ in a range of human rights areas,” he wrote. “This week, it was the turn of the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination (CERD).”

John goes on to explain “This week, the Government was back in front of CERD for the second time this year, to report on progress. Amongst other things, the department of justice pledged to consider “reversing the burden of proof” in relation to its proposed criminalisation of alleged “hate speech.”

As with most serious issues in Ireland, nobody is really talking about it. Groups like Free Speech Ireland and media organisations like Gript.ie are vastly outnumbered by a network of hundreds of state-funded NGO’s all pushing the same agenda. The mainstream Irish media is overwhelmingly of the same line of thinking as these NGO’s and the politicians who do their bidding.

This Saturday, December 14th, a rally for free speech is taking place in Dublin, organised by several different groups. Almost as soon as this was announced, a counter “rally against hate” was organised.

I envy the vibrant pro-freedom movement that exists in the US. The 1st amendment, liberty, and freedom are defended by conservative leaders, youth organisations like YAF and powerful think-tanks and advocacy groups. In Ireland, we have almost no support. We are outnumbered and discredited as far-right fascists. Meanwhile, the unholy trinity of establishment political parties, media and NGO’s trundle ahead without ever considering the consequences of their actions.

The Irish American bond is strong, nurtured through generations and formed in a mutual fight for freedom against an oppressive empire. We need your help. You can show your support by tweeting Irish Justice Minister @CharlieFlanagan to voice your opposition to the criminalisation of speech and use the hashtags – #Defendourspeech and #FreeSpeechIreland to get behind the rally this Saturday.


Bryan O’Shea is the Co-founder and President of Free Speech Ireland