not a member? click here to sign up
Hot Press Banned From Irish Prisons
In an unprecedented development, the prison service has slapped a ban on Ireland’s leading music and current affairs magazine – that’s HP, incidentally – a move that legal experts say is unconstitutional.
Jason O'Toole, 25 Feb 2009
Hot Press has been banned from all Irish prisons, we can exclusively reveal.
The prohibition appears to be the first ever case of a mainstream magazine being outlawed in Irish jails, according to a spokesperson for the Minister for Justice. He confessed: “In relation to the banning of magazines, I haven’t heard of it before.”
The bewildering question is: why would Ireland’s foremost music, lifestyle and current affaiirs magazine be considered illicit reading by the authorities?
Apparently, the rationale behind the bizarre censorship can be traced back to our highly controversial interview last July with Ireland’s most notorious criminal, John Gilligan. At the time, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern described the interview as “regrettable” – prompting Portlaoise Prison to temporarily prohibit Hot Press. Gilligan was subsequently handed two months solitary confinement, as punishment for doing the interview.
This prompted Gilligan’s lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano, who also represented the likes of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Miloševic, to fire off a legal missive to the Justice Minister, demanding that the ban be revoked.
In his letter, Di Stefano wrote: “There is no reason why this magazine should be banned. It is completely contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights and, more importantly, contrary to the Constitution of Ireland. We would therefore be grateful if you would forthwith, with the word forthwith meaning exactly that, ensure that Mr Gilligan receives copies of said magazine.”
The ban was apparently lifted at the time – albeit temporarily, it has now emerged. We have discovered that, seven months after this incident, Hot Press is still prohibited in Portlaoise – as well as in other prisons around the country. Speaking to Hot Press, a prison warden stated: “We’ve been instructed that Hot Press is not permissible reading material. The general consensus is that it’s banned because of the high-profile interviews conducted in recent months with John Gilligan and Paddy McCann and others.”