Day 8: 8 Censored Books. 8 Days to Repeal the 8th

Final day of our 8 Censored Books where each day on the run up to our event with US author and journalist Katha Pollitt, Abortion Rights Campaign will be highlighting the 8 books that are censored in Ireland. Every book that is censored in Ireland is due to content about abortion. So check back here for tomorrow’s book and let us know what you think at @freesafelegal and using #RepealThe8th or #8Books8Days hashtags. 



Jane Cousins
(London: Virago, 1978)

You may have spotted a trend by this, the final day of ARC’s 8 Censored Books campaign. On 14 February 1962, at a Trinity College Dublin Historical Society meeting, the Irish writer Frank O’Connor proposed a motion ‘that Irish censorship is insulting to Irish intelligence’. He suggested that ‘[t]here is more than a casual affinity between the pathological censor and the pathological pornographer’. Ireland’s Censorship of Publications Board of course banned more than books containing information about abortion, although books such as Jane Cousins’ were given a specific category and special consideration under law. The Board also banned all of Ireland’s greatest 20th-century writers—and a bit of Balzac for good measure. (Good job, lads.) Irish Censorship was characterised, as O’Connor pointed out, by hypocritical prurience, ignoring the broader artistic value and significance of works to focus on naughty one-liners as grounds for censorship. Similarly, the obvious use that books on sexual health and family planning could have been to women and men in 20th-century Ireland was not considered; it was more important to keep Ireland free from the corrupting influence of ‘the permissive society’.

The Censorship of Publications Board exists to this day. Although largely inactive of late, the Board and its associated law, just like the Eighth Amendment, is an odious anachronism of an Ireland long-discredited in the eyes of Ireland and the world in 2015.