A sexy novel written by Ireland's Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, has been referred to the Censorship office. Book censors are set to investigate whether Laura: A Story You Will Never Forget is too obscene for Irish readers.
The book, which the minister wrote 24 years ago, contains steamy sex scenes and centres around the troubled private life of an Oireachtas member who is having an affair with his secretary. At one point in the book, the fictional parliamentarian
attempts to force the woman to have an abortion in order to save his political career.
The Herald understands that a complaint about the book's sex scenes has been lodged with the Censorship of Publications Board. Another allegation is the novel advocates the procurement of an abortion or miscarriage. In Ireland there are two
main categories under which books can be banned. The first is they are indecent or obscene while the second is they advocate the procurement of abortion or miscarriage .
A spokesperson for the Board confirmed that concerns have been raised with its secretary by a member of the public and added: The complaint will be considered by the new Censorship of Publications Board when it is appointed. Ironically, it
is Shatter who is due to announce the members of the board in the coming weeks.
Irish opposition party, Fianna Fail is seeking to disband the country's book censors.
The party's justice spokesperson, Niall Collins, has laid a bill before the Dail calling for the abolition of the Censorship of Publications Board.
The board has been more or less dormant of late but returned to public attention earlier this year when Justice Minister Alan Shatter's novel Laura was referred to it after a ludicrous complaint by a member of the public that the novel's
contents were somehow "obscene and contravened laws on procurement of an abortion or miscarriage".
However, no decision on the salaciousness or otherwise of Shatter's novel has been made, because the board currently does not have any members.
Collins said he had tabled the motion in order to put the board out of its misery. He said such a level of inactivity indicates the board is essentially defunct; it is as dead as the parrot in Monty Python .
Alan Shatter's novel Laura was written 25 years ago and was a bestseller at the time, but has languished in obscurity until someone kindly complained to the then non-existent book censors. The complaint hit the headlines and it
inspired a re-print of the book.
The Irish Independent has learned that the board, chaired by Cork solicitor Shane McCarthy, met in late April and decided that no action would be taken against the book's publishers, Poolbeg Press.
The censorship board returned a copy of Shatter's book to the complainant, with a letter advising that it did not see any problem with its content and that (the board) decided that no action would be taken against the publisher .
One of Ireland's top sex shop owners has called for the ban on Playgirl magazine to be lifted.
Twenty years after Playboy first appeared on the top shelves of Ireland, sale of the feminist answer to the title is still prohibited.
SexSiopa.ie founder Shawna Scott this week urged censors to Play fair over soft porn in 2015. She said:
I'm shocked that Playgirl is still banned in Ireland. But I think it's a perfect example of the double standard in our culture that celebrates straight men's sexuality, whilst viewing that of women and gay men as shameful.
Perhaps now on the 20th anniversary of the unbanning of Playboy in Ireland, it's time to make Playgirl legal too.
A spokescensor for the Censorship of Publications Board - a five-person State body - told Review:
Playgirl was first prohibited in 1974. [After] this prohibition order expired, a second prohibition order, which made it permanent, was granted. Prohibition orders can be revoked on appeal, as can second or subsequent orders which, when made,
are permanent unless revoked on appeal.
Razzle, Mayfair and Men Only are among the titles back on Irish shelves after publishers mounted one such appeal back in 2011. But there are 266 magazines that are still banned.
Irish book censors have not banned a single magazine and have blocked just one book in the last ten years. Now a member of the Irish Parliament has called for the Censorship of Publications Board to be shut down.
Fianna Fail Arts and Culture Spokesperson Niamh Smyth said: This is one quango that should be whacked. She was referring to a political campaign slogan whack a quango, to shut down quangos. Smyth added:
The ongoing existence of a Censorship Board that doesn't censor anything is bringing the concept of censorship into disrepute at a time where we need it more than ever.
The only time the board has been heard of in ten years was the ludicrous submission of Alan Shatter's novel Laura over something to do with abortion.