'It is one of the main symbols of the State' - Senator warns against risk of 'inappropriate' use of national anthem
Our national anthem is at risk of being exploited by advertisers, a Senator has claimed.
The copyright for Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song) expired in 2012, 70 year after the death of writer author, Peadar Kearney.
Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly called the use of our national anthem for advertising purposes "inappropriate" and is urging the public to give their thoughts about the issue.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said: "It is one of the main symbols of the State, the harp and the flag are the other two - both of which are protected by the State.
"The harp has a patent on it by the State and the protocol division of the Taoiseach's office has responsibility over the flag, which was updated last year.
"A clothing company used it for an online advertising campaign and they were able to do so as the copyright had fallen out of existence.
"What we're asking the public is should there be protocol and guidelines for this? Should legislation be brought in?
"Should advertisers be allowed to use the national anthem or should we leave that to the court of public opinion in regards to what I believe is an inappropriate way?
"This is their anthem and they should have a say in it."
He said that other nations have enshrined the protection of their national anthems in law.
He said: "We have looked at other jurisdictions and what they have done - in some countries they have fined people for not singing it with vigour, in Canada they simply defined the lyrics and music in legislation and then left it up to the public to decide when someone using it should be supported, especially in advertising.
"By and large people don't disrespect their national anthems in other jurisdictions."
Senator Daly also gave an insight into Ireland's history with the song.
He said: "It was adopted in the early years of the State in 1926, back in the foundation of the State but it was sang in the GPO during Easter Week 1916, so it's history goes back a long way.
"It is there for the most important state occasions and 100 years after the 1916 Rising it was sung against outside the GPO, it is a key symbol of the State."
He said that when he noticed the copyright on the anthem was about to expire he urged the government to protect it and there have been two attempts since to do so, both of which have failed.
He added: "The national anthem belongs to everyone and that's why we are asking people's opinions.
"Given the fact that it has now fallen out of copyright we are asking the public to get involved in the public's Seanad consultation process.
"We are inviting submissions from all citizens, particularly Transition Year history students on what the State should do now that it's no longer protected by copyright."
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