This essay is based on two periods of censorship in Ireland: censorship of 'evil literature' in the second quarter of the twentieth century and the Emergency censorship 1939-1945. It will be argued that the main motivator behind the 1929 censorship was the Church while censorship during the Emergency was driven by political considerations. It will be made evident that the government's role became increasingly strong as church influence diminished and in some cases acted against what was perceived as national interest.
Censorship of Publications Act 1929
'They deceive the ordinary, average, ignorant reader into believingÃ¢ÂÂ¦that they are orthodox publications approved by the authority of the Church, and that consequently what they say should have considerable moral weight. Sectarian bitterness and animosity are favoured and encouraged by these papers. They preach and practice a code that is as far removed from the Christian religion as barbarianism is divorced from civilisation' (Woodman cited C.K
Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Cultural Motivations-Religion
In order to understand the religious motivations of censorship in the early twentieth century, it is imperative to appreciate the role of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Prior to independence and following it, attendance at religious services ranged from 90% in the cities to 100% in small towns and rural areas. Paul Blanshard describes Ireland as 'the world's most devoutly catholic country.' (1954:29)
Following WWI, Ireland was a victim of a post-war syndrome paralleled in many countries. The Church saw this as an opportunity to firm up moral codes that had become less vigorous. The majority of Irish people had been conditioned to accept some form of control. Catholic Ireland saw the Church as the authorative custodian of moral truth and as such, tolerance of error was unjustifiable.
The reading of evil literature was seen as an offence against society as...