Ireland’s proposed hate speech law could ‘censor the entire internet,’ experts warn – LifeSite

DUBLIN (Alliance Defending Freedom) — Global voices have united in concern about the “hate speech” bill pending before Irish Parliament, as 1-in-4 Irish say they are worried about the erosion of free speech.

Speaking at the Irish parliament this month, “Twitter Files” journalist Michael Shellenberger stated clearly that “there is no hate crisis in Ireland” and that the case for censorship was brought about by “elite panic” trying to stifle open conversation and discourse among the Irish people.

The bill would make it an offense to possess (for distribution) material that could lead to “hatred” in Ireland, with punishment of up to five years in prison.

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The bill would also impact the right to share views on social media across much of the world, with directors and executives of social media platforms with international HQs in Ireland (X, Facebook, and more) held accountable to the Irish government if found to be platforming undefined “hate speech.”

“The world is watching Ireland. The censorial ‘hate speech bill,’ if passed, would not only shut down conversation nationally – as the home of various international social media headquarters, it would have a global impact on what we can all discuss online.”

“A sweeping ban on undefined ‘hate’ gives authorities the power to determine which viewpoints are acceptable to voice. World history warns us that such power can be easily abused,” said Michael Shellenberger, international bestselling author and journalist behind the “Twitter Files.”

Far-reaching consequences

On the same day, giving the keynote address at the Ireland Free Speech Summit, which sold out amongst members of the public, Shellenberger suggested the goal of the bill may be to “censor the entire internet.”

The bill offers no clear definition of what “hate” entails. Experts warn this could pave the way for the criminal prosecution of a wide range of expression considered unfavorable by authorities.

The bill would further make refusal to give a password to an electronic device a crime, which would allow authorities to search and possibly find materials that are “hateful.”

1-in-4 Irish concerned about right to free speech being eroded

New national polling commissioned by ADF International reveals a deep-seated concern amongst the Irish for the erosion of free speech, with a quarter revealing they already feel restricted in expressing their views and opinions in social settings like a pub, or in their place of work or study.

In the survey, conducted by Whitestone Insight*, 90 percent confirmed that free speech was “very important” to them – while the Irish Parliament debates new and wide-ranging “hate speech” legislation, with egregious implications for the basic human right to free speech.

“The proposed ‘hate speech’ legislation would be one of the worst examples of censorship in the modern West. The bill purports to stamp out ‘hate speech,’ but fails to define what ‘hate’ is – allowing authorities to censor any speech the state opposes.”

“That’s why voices from around the world are speaking up for the right to debate and discuss ideas – here in Ireland, and everywhere,” said Lorcan Price, Irish barrister and legal counsel for ADF International.

Global voices speak out against censorship

At the 2024 Free Speech Summit in Dublin on June 18, international free speech champions gathered with politicians to highlight the issues at stake under the bill.

“Father Ted” screenwriter Graham Linehan was among the famous faces gathered, challenging attempts to censor Ireland:

We’re all coming together with different viewpoints, beliefs, and perspectives – but we agree on one thing. We should be allowed to freely discuss and debate ideas in Ireland. Our free speech must not be curtailed by a censorial government. It’s essential that the Parliament consider the draconian impact that the hate speech bill could have on Irish society – and keep the public square open for all.

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Independent Senators Rónán Mullen and Sharon Keogan spoke out against the bill, with Mullen highlighting that the bill is “far too vague”:

When it comes to democracy, I believe in it. When it comes to the right to test each other’s ideas, I believe in it. And we can’t do that if we’re operating under the chilling fear of giving offence to somebody who wraps that up as hatred, claims that it’s against the law, attacks you as a mob online, causes social media companies to take down your stuff so that you’ve failed to communicate before you even begin to try… If nobody was ever prosecuted under this law, the process itself would become the punishment.

Also speaking up at the event were cleric and broadcaster Father Calvin Robinson; Cambridge academic Dr. James Orr; Irish journalist Laura Perrins; Philosophy Professor Gerard Casey; feminist campaigner Laoise de Brún; GB News host Andrew Doyle; psychotherapist and Director of Genspect Stella O’Malley; and international bestselling author Andy Ngo.

Speaking to censorship within the gender debate specifically, Genspect director and psychotherapist Stella O’Malley said:

I am finding the gender world increasingly hardline, and there is a lack of understanding about the importance of free speech, which is a cornerstone and a fundamental to a civilization. We need to be able to speak about this freely rather than stumbling over what is the fashionable phrase to use right now.

For more information on the Ireland Free Speech Summit, click HERE.

*Methodology note: Whitestone Insight surveyed 1,027 Republic of Ireland adults online from March 15-20, 2024. Whitestone Insight is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables are available at

Reprinted with permission from Alliance Defending Freedom.

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