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Role of Irish press censor criticised
Some have argued that the availability of American papers, particularly before they entered the war, has undermined the efficacy of the press censor. The Irish Independent is now saying that the Irish censor's office is biased Photo: Irish Life,5 Nov 1915. Full collection of Irish Life available from the National Library of Ireland.

Role of Irish press censor criticised

Dublin, 9 October 1917 - The role of the Irish press censor has come under scrutiny after the department was criticised by the Irish Independent.

The newspaper has accused Dublin Castle of being biased in favour of certain titles, most notably the Redmondite Freeman’s Journal. The Independent states as the ‘plain truth’ that ‘for more than a month the [Irish Parliamentary] Party and Government organs in Dublin, relying on the good offices of their numerous friends in high places, have been deliberately disregarding and ignoring the Censorship’.

Ian Kenneally, author of 'The Paper Wall: Newspapers and Propaganda in Ireland 1919-1921', explains how the press censorship worked in Ireland during the First World War

The charge relates to the recent publication of a letter from the Bishop of Killaloe, Most Rev. Dr Fogarty, the text of which was telegraphed to all Dublin newspapers on the night of 26 September. The letter concerns the death of Thomas Ashe, and is a vicious condemnation of the British authorities in Ireland. The press censor instructed that it was not to be published.

However, the Freeman’s Journal did eventually publish it, slightly altering text that referred to Ashe’s death as ‘murder’. The Irish Independent on the other hand claim that they received ‘no fewer than half a dozen messages’ warning of the penalties they would incur under DORA should they follow suit.

The Independent has argued that the example of the bishop’s letter is part of a pattern whereby the Freeman’s Journal has been permitted to print matter that has been prohibited by the censor elsewhere.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.