Repeal book event at Dublin International Literature Festival cancelled by local council
An event at Dublin’s International Literature Festival that planned to discuss an anthology of writing about the movement for reproductive rights in Ireland was cancelled by Dublin City Council (DCC) after the council’s arts officer raised it with council management, reports the Irish Times.
The event, named Question of the Eighth, was scheduled for 21 May—four days before the referendum. It was set to be hosted by journalist and author Una Mullally, whose anthology Repeal the 8th (Unbound) explores how Ireland is the only democracy in the Western world to have a constitutional ban on abortion. The anthology includes contributions from authors Anne Enright, Lisa McInerney, Caitlin Moran and Louise O’Neill. Poet Elaine Feeney and actor and author Tara Flynn were also due to participate in the event.
DCC city arts officer Ray Yeates brought the matter up with Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan and Richard Shakespeare, the council’s assistant chief executive, querying whether the event was ‘in contravention of any rule, law or procedure about the referendum’.
He added: ‘I have never interfered on taste or any other matter in seven years. The referendum makes you aware of what you are supposed to be as a council official. If the director programmes something, we must observe the code of conduct.’ He also said that as an arts officer, he had ‘an understanding of the artistic community and how it works … But I’m also a city official and therefore have to abide by the code of conduct.’
In her Irish Times column, Una Mullally wrote of event’s cancellation: ‘It was not a campaigning event. It was not a rally or a demonstration or a hustings … We should not stop people using art to discuss our stories and our society.’
The National Campaign for the Arts, a lobbying group, responded by saying it would actively engage with the issue, however that ‘it may not be resolved in the short term and will need to be addressed at a systematic level’.