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Democracy feeds on free speech

Madam --The headline in Anne Harris's article, (Sunday Independent, February 26, 2012), "Free speech has a cost -- but its value is priceless" is not only true for press freedom of speech but even more importantly for the individual's right of speech.

This nation does not have a very good record in protecting the individual's right of speech.

In the last 120 days the following denial of speech took place in this country. During the Obama visit to Dublin this writer was denied the opportunity to carry a sign in Dame Street which read: "No War in Iran." Then in October this writer was denied the right to hear Nick Griffin, MEP, at Trinity College Dublin because of fears of violence. Last week a single lady protester was denied the right to hold a sign at Shannon Airport protesting the visit of the Chinese Vice-President.

What makes this scenario deeply troubling is that Ireland's leading civil rights organisation -- The Irish Council for Civil Liberties doesn't appear to have the resources to pursue the issue of free speech.

Without free speech, no democracy can thrive, because without free speech there is no democracy.

Vincent J Lavery,

Dalkey, Co Dublin

Sunday Independent