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Minister failed to defend freedom of speech – Ó Clochartaigh

18 February, 2014

Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh today called on the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbittee to explain why he did not intervene in the recent controversy regarding RTE and defend freedom of speech.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

“The politics of this debate centre on the censorship of certain views.

“The end result has been the censorship of Rory O’Neill by RTE and a denial of his right as a gay person to name homophobia.

“This does not set a good precedent for the upcoming referendum on marriage equality.

“It is the LGBT community who must define what homophobia is. They are at the receiving end of it and know its demeaning and discriminatory characteristics best.

“There is a politics of censorship surrounding this debate.

“This is not just about homophobia and gay marriage.

“It is about freedom of speech and the obligation of the state broadcaster to facilitate and protect this right.

“RTE should not censor debates that address issues to do with human rights and the equal standing of minority groups before the law.

“As the state broadcaster it must ensure the LGBT community receive adequate airtime in the run up to the referendum on marriage equality.

“After all, you are either for freedom of speech or you are against it – there can be no half measures.

“As Minister with responsibility for the national broadcaster Pat Rabbittee failed to defend this fundamental right for the people of Ireland.”

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