the Irish for rights

The political advertising ban rears its ugly head again

Shell to Sea, via their siteI’m sorry I’m coming to this too late to attend the gig, but I’ve only just seen this piece by Lorna Siggins in today’s Irish Times (with added links):

RTÉ denies censorship of Afri advert over Rossport reference

RTÉ has denied that it has refused to broadcast an advertisement for a social event in Dublin tonight that includes a reference to the Mayo village of Rossport.

Justice and peace non-governmental organisation Afri said RTÉ is censoring its attempt to publicise the event, although it is willing to pay for the 20-second advertisement. An advert for the event was carried on the 98FM radio station yesterday.

Health and safety concerns about original plans by Shell EP Ireland for a high-pressure onshore pipeline led to the jailing of five men known as the Rossport Five for 94 days in 2005.

Over two months ago, RTÉ said it had “difficulties” with the wording of an advertisement for the Afri famine walk because of the reference to Rossport.

MidWest Radio had also declined to accept an advertisement for the famine walk from Afri, saying it had to consult the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) on a reference to the Rossport Five. It said it informed the BCI of its decision, which it said the commission supported.

The commission said it gave no formal direction to MidWest. However, it had advised it – when the famine walk was already over – that its decision was a “reasonable interpretation” of the guidelines on political under the 1988 Radio and Television Act [here and here].

RTÉ said that, as with the previous advertisement inquiry, it had asked Afri to clear it with the commission to ensure it complied with the 1988 Act’s guidelines on political advertising.

The advert promotes an Afri gig entitled That’s Gas… in the Sugar Club in Dublin. The wording refers to the title, venue and time, and lists Paula Meehan, Dermot Bolger, Jinx Lennon, members of Kila, Donal O’Kelly, Sorcha Fox, Pom Boyd, Gina Moxley, Vincent McGrath and Pat O’Donnell of Rossport as participants.

Afri described RTÉ’s decision as “a blatant attempt at censorship”. “This is another worrying insight into how our national broadcaster works and how large corporations can use their power to silence voices raised on behalf of justice and human rights,” Joe Murray of Afri said.

As this blog has noted in the past, Irish law does indeed ban political advertising; the current Broadcasting Bill does not purport to change this position; but it remains to be seen whether it can survive challenge in the European Court of Human Rights. In the meantime, there will be absurdly wide definitions of “political” by overly cautious broadcasters, and perfectly innocuous advertisments will continue to be unnecessarily banned.

Related Tags: [ ]

2 Responses to “The political advertising ban rears its ugly head again”

  1. […] (e.g. here and here) and of the political advertising ban (e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) with the free speech guarantees in the Constitution (here and […]

  2. […] (in conjunction with section 41(4), which contains a ban on religious advertising) re-enacts long-standing bans on political (and religious) advertising; though such a ban is unlikely to survive […]

Leave a Reply



Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’m Eoin O’Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie – the Irish for rights.

“Cearta” really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links


  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.