Scribbling in the Margins , Fianna Fáil Arts Policy.

Ireland has fallen in the Press Freedom League due to the addition of an amendment to the 2006-2009 defamation legislation( enacted on January the First 2010). This fact is mostly unsurprising , except maybe to the Irish media who chose not to highlight the international dialogues on the dangers of defamation censorship, but to attack the group who launched a campaign to highlight these very dangers.

We in Ireland are approaching the first anniversary of that censorship which was launched by an Irish justice Minister , Dermot Ahern, under the advisement of the Irish Attorney General (on January the First 2011).

The fact that the Bill was shoved through under what we politely term guillotined debate and with majority vote was practically ignored by our press, who awaited until a global conversation had occurred and only highlighted the issue 24 hours after the amendment was implemented !

There is of course historical precedent in the Fianna Fáil party for ill-judged censorship which attacks the development of free-speech, and in its turn the Arts and the cultural development of our country. I have highlighted this throughout 2010  in a number of Poethead posts , which I am excerpting and linking here. It is my belief that this is part and parcel of the history of the Fianna Fáil party which sidelined, censored and under-funded the Arts in a manner which led to and will continue to lead to an intellectual diaspora from Ireland. Excerpt for The Old King : The Criminalisation for Blasphemy remains on the Irish Statute.

The development of the Arts in Ireland has since 2003 , under the O Donoghue Arts Act , been atrophied by the concerns of ministers more interested in sports and who appoint our Arts Council. The all-embracing silence of artists and thinkers on the criminalisation of blasphemy being a pointer to an inability to discuss anything outside of very narrow two-dimensional concerns of output and finance , which isn’t really about the realm of  ideas and the intellect at all.”

The 2003 O Donoghue Arts Act and the Relation of the Irish Government to the Arts Council.

I have alluded to the Arts Act 2003 which has been covered competently enough in the Press and which brings Government very close to deciding what constitutes Irish art, this Act is a carbon-copy of  De Valera policies which led to the Rouault Controversy, the foundation of outsider arts groups and the evolution of an official Irish arts which owed everything to an ideology of mirroring governmental concerns in the development of the State but starved a generation of intellectual food.

There are currently numerous rows in Ireland regarding funding, I reckon the intercine squabbling amongst those who want the crumbs off the table is wholly undignified and that we should be looking at remedies such as the Repeal of the 2003 Arts Act, the independence from Government of Arts Council Appointments, and the relation of the Arts Council to the Revenue Commission ( who seek Govt. advisement on the endowment of tax exemptions) .

I do not believe that the Fianna Fáil Party are nurturing the root of Press-freedom or intellectual and cultural development through policies that have managed to starve arts and cultural institutes of their needed revenues, that have left the regions bereft of decent cultural centres and that have failed to identify the problems in their 13 years of policy which is showing itself as an abject failure on a cultural scale.

Poethead Links and Irish Imprints , reacting to savage Fianna Fáil and Green Cutbacks in Arts.

I aways think that European cultures know the value of their poetic and literary traditions more so than us Irish, but I am optimistically waiting to be proven wrong. I include herein some of the Independent Press names , which will evolve and be added to and indeed I have added also some online writers who I  and many others enjoy.

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  1. Bailed-out Bank of Ireland flogs off art collection
    (AFP) – Nov 25, 2010

    DUBLIN — The Bank of Ireland has begun auctioning off some of its prestigious art collection, despite angry opposition to the bailed-out institution flogging off such assets.

    All but one of the 145 paintings and sculptures offered for sale late Wednesday found a buyer, fetching 1.5 million euros (two million dollars) in total for the country’s second biggest bank, auction house Adam’s said.

    The most expensive lot, “Clouds at Sunset” by Paul Henry, Ireland’s best-known artist of the 1920s and 1930s, raised 66,000 euros.

    More than 4,000 visitors took a look at the artworks, Adam’s said, and the interest was so great that the sale had to be moved to a larger venue — the ballroom of a plush Dublin city centre hotel. Ireland’s oldest bank hopes to auction off all of its artwork, with further sales planned next year, in order to “reinvest that money in arts,” bank spokeswoman Anne Mathews told AFP, who said they would give the profits to artistic organisations.

    The sale has triggered a lively debate among Irish citizens, who view their banks with mistrust and anger.
    The state was forced to pump in some 50 billion euros after they were left floundering when Ireland’s property bubble burst.

    But it was not enough and Dublin has called in the European Union and the International Monetary fund for a bailout which could total 85 billion euros, with negotiations set to finish on Sunday.

    Bank of Ireland, once the pride of the country’s booming Celtic Tiger economy, is today 36-percent owned by the state, which could, according to media reports, end up becoming a majority shareholder.

    “The collection should have been held as collateral for all the taxpayers’ money that has been given to Bank of Ireland to bail it out,” reckoned 67-year-old Breda O’Byrne, among a dozen people who protested against the sale.

    She held a placard reading: “Guilty bankers and watchdogs should be severely punished.”

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