This is the first major study of Ireland's Emergency censorship, 1939-1945. Based largely on primary source material which has only recently come into the public domain, it provides a comprehensive account and analysis of this hitherto unexplored episode of Irish history.
Censorship, under Fianna Fail's Frank Aiken, covered the press and publications of all kinds; film, theatre and radio, along with postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. War news was 'neutralised' newsreels were banned, expression of opinions on the war, neutrality and much else of vital importance was disallowed - all "for the purpose of securing public safety and the preservation of the State".One of the harshest regimes of its kind, particularly in comparison to other neutrals, Ireland's 'censorship culture' enabled the draconian wartime controls to bemore easily accommodated. Here, for the first time, that influence is detailed and analysed.
The author examines all aspects of the Emergency censorship: planning, legislation and organisation; personalities, policy and practice. He places it in the context of Irish political culture and particularly the attitudes of the political elite towards society. In the process, new light is cast on a number of pertinent issues, such as: propaganda, partition and development of 'twenty-six county nationalism', the ambiguous and contradictory nature of Irish-British relations, the linkage between 'moral' and political/security concerns, the culture of secrecy and censorship and the authoritarianism of which censorship is a by-product.
This book is an important contribution to the contemporary history of Ireland, but also has topical relevance at a time when issues of censorship, neutrality, democracy and nationality are amongst the most important of present day national debates.