I received the following email from Aisling Reidy, Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties
It has been brought to my attention that a report in the Irish Times on Sat 2 August has received widespread coverage and dissemination on web sitesincluding yours, and I would therefore like to bring a clarification to the attention of your readers.
Despite the spin in the paper, we did not issue a press statement or a legal warning to the Catholic Church. We were actually contacted by the paper and asked to comment on the legal position of the document released by the church in relation to the existing Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. As I said, we did not issue a statement on it and have no intention of pursuing any legal action against the Catholic Church. The 1989 act states:
2.—(1) It shall be an offence for a person—
( a ) to publish or distribute written material,
( b ) to use words, behave or display written material—
(i) in any place other than inside a private residence, or
(ii) inside a private residence so that the words, behaviour or material are heard or seen by persons outside the residence, or
( c ) to distribute, show or play a recording of visual images or sounds, if the written material, words, behaviour, visual images or sounds, as the case may be, are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred.
And hatred" means hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation;
That is the Act that I was asked to comment on and I noted that it is possible that the document could be interpreted as breaching these standards. I also said that the document itself is likely not to be a problem, but if the words in it were used in an active campaign to condemn gays as evil and a threat to children, then that could be interpreted as likely to cause hatred.
I never said that the Vatican intended to incite hatred, but the strong words of the document could lead to problems.
I hope this clarifies the matter. Also to confirm, the ICCL fully supports equal rights for all those irrespective of sexual orientation and has and will continue to campaign for full recognition of same sex unions.
Thank you for your time,
I don't have time to comment on this now but as a courtesy I thought I'd bring it to everyone's attention.
UPDATE: Just getting back to this, it still seems clear to me that the original Irish Times story was a shot across the bows of the Catholic Church in Ireland with the implicit message: "Be nice... or else".
In the light of the email it is more likely that, in asking the question of the ICCL to get the answer it wanted to hear, it was the idea of the Irish Times than the ICCL. However this means that the ICCL either
a) Knowingly allowed itself to be used as the proxy for the Irish Times' crusade.
b) Didn't realise what the Irish Times were getting at.
neither of which reflects well on the ICCL. 27/8/03 5:21 PM