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Monday 22 September 2014

Pub porn films taxed legal brains

Published 28/12/2012 | 01:04

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There was concern over some other types of movie screenings in pubs in 1982, files reveal

A Garda superintendent exercised the country's top legal minds seeking advice on how to stop publicans showing porn films, state papers from 1982 have revealed.

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Superintendent T Leahy, based in Co Clare, said there was intelligence of at least one bar in the Ennistymon area offering explicit movie shows. No suspect publican or pub was named in the letters and no description given of the films.

But with his moral compass navigating all the way to attorney general Patrick Connolly - later to resign over the Malcolm Macarthur affair - the superintendent was determined to enforce decency.

He wrote to the state solicitor in Co Clare concerned that there was no law in the land to shut down the porn enterprise. "I can find nothing in law to provide for this situation," the superintendent said. "The Censorship of Films Act 1923 refers to pictures exhibited by means of a cinematograph or similar apparatus which would not appear to include video showing."

The debate on laws to tackle public viewings of porn films ran from May-August 1982. Michael A Buckley, deputy assistant chief state solicitor, said he had been asked by director of public prosecutions (DPP) Eamonn Barnes whether prosecutions should be brought, provided there was evidence.

Mr Buckley advised that the only hope of a successful conviction of a publican showing porn was under censorship laws. He also said that local gardai should object to a liquor licence being renewed if a prosecution was successful.

Despite all the suspicions about a porn club, and after looking into the reports from Co Clare, Mr Buckley later wrote to the DPP as frustrations began to mount that the advice was sought in the first place. "The gardai do not appear to have positive evidence that these films are in fact being shown in licensed premises," Mr Buckley said.

"Bettling (sic), performing children, drunkenness, lotteries and having prostitutes on licensed premises are all prohibited but as far as I can ascertain the showing of films in licensed premises does not appear to be an offence. It might be possible to initiate a prosecution on grounds that the showing of these films tends to cause a lowering of public morals in the area. Realisticly (sic), however, this charge would not succeed."

Mr Buckley went on to agree that suspect publicans should be targeted under censorship laws as the porn films would not have been certified by the official censor.

The DPP's office wrote: "There is no evidence of facts before me indicating the nature of the 'pornographic' films, whether the showing is alleged to have occurred one or more times, the source or extent of the information on same or whether it is considered there is sufficient evidence to establish same as a matter of probability. The inspector's report is singularly lacking in information or facts. In these circumstances I do not give any directions and none should have been sought from me," signed JLM. The documents were contained in a file from the Attorney General's office marked 2012/21/433.

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