President says libraries are facing 'censorship' due to 'intimidation by far-right groups'

president says libraries are facing 'censorship' due to 'intimidation by far-right groups'

President Michael D Higgins

PRESDIENT MICHAEL D HIGGINS has said that protecting libraries and their staff from “intimidation from protests by far-right groups” is “not just a matter for the Gardaí, but for all” of society.

Higgins said that this was needed to ensure that libraries “do not fall foul to a reactionary and ignorant censorship” and can remain stocked with the “widest range of literature reflecting the diversity” of contemporary Ireland.

Numerous libraries have faced demonstrations by right-wing and conspiracy theory fuelled groups over the past year, sometimes targetting LGBTQ+ reading materials held by the buildings.

Speaking at a Bloomsday Garden Party at Áras an Uachtaráin, held to celebreate James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses, the president said libraries must remain places where people can be encouraged to be “inquisitive about the world” in which we live.

“A world without libraries would be a dystopian one, indeed it would be a very frightening prospect,” Higgins said in the address.

“Libraries must remain places for the quiet engagement of the soul, for a peaceful contemplating of any neglected curiosity, of intellectual awakening.”

As part of commemorations for Joyce’s seminal work, Higgins said it was important that public libraries are “developed, extended and protected” so that they “continue to be the special places of learning”.

Quoting Socrates, Higgins added that libraries must remain the “delivery room for the birth of ideas”, encouraging people about” how our past is part of what has shaped our present, and about how we might use our knowledge and talents to create a better future”.

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