Trocaire has expressed dismay and surprise at the ban, by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, on its Lenten campaign advertisement, promoting gender equality. See the Irish Examiner HERE for a report of the Trocaire reaction and HERE for Trocaireâs website response.
See Eoin OâDellâs analysis HERE of the background, reciting the legal basis on which the Commission might rely.
Arguably, the Commissionâs reading of Section 10(3) of the Radio Television Act 1988 stating âno advertisement shall be broadcast which is directed towards any religious or political end or which has any relation to an industrial disputeâ?, is a very broad interpretion of the meaning of âpoliticalâ?. That this is the case is underlined by the fact that RTE, the national broadcaster, has taken a narrow interpretion of similar legislation pertaining to it, and is now running the very same advertisement for Trocaire.
Possibly the Commission has been affected by the example of more recent legislation in the form of Section 22 of The Electoral Act Act 1997 as amended by Section 49 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001.
In this legislation âthird partiesâ? (persons not being a political party or an electoral candidate) are constrained in the receipt of money for âpolitical purposesâ?.
The definition of political purposes is surprisingly wide. Significantly, it includes this;
âto promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the interests of a third party in connection with the conduct or management of any campaign conducted with a view to promoting or procuring a particular outcome in relation to a policy or policies or functions of the Government or any public authorityâ?.
So, all of civil life is, potentially, constrained by the State in the exercise of its civil rights and entitlements, assuming that the purview of the State has been extended to reach those rights.
The campaign to change the name of Dingle back from Daingean Ui Chuis to Dingle/Daingean Ui Chuis comes to mind.
Did the proponents of that change have to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission as required by Section 23C of the Electoral Act 1997 (as inserted by Section 49 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001)?
It was Government policy that the name of Dingle be changed to Daingean Ui Chuis and therefore it happened. The relevant Minister insisted that it could not be lawfully changed back to Dingle or any derivative of it. However, following the result of a plebiscite in the town the Minister ventured an opinion that perhaps the impossible was not impossible after all.
Surely he was too ready to yield to the people of Dingle? A Government and a Minister should surely be anxious to enforce the law. Should he not now make a complaint to the Standards in Public Office Commission?