FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM TO DEMONSTRATE AND THEIR ABSENCE by Donal Kennedy

 

I  attended a few meetings in London’s Trafalgar Square during the early days of the Irish Civil Rights movement. Gerry Fitt spoke and some Labour MPs and there was no disorder. Like Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square was long considered a venue for peaceful assembly and free speech.

But after Bloody Sunday, when such venues would have been very useful, Westminster Council banned any meeting concerning Ireland and the ban continued for about 30 years.

Except once, when it allowed a so-called “Peace Movement”   meeting which had the support of the Northern Ireland Office’s Roy Mason of the British Labour Party, who might well be remembered as “Nasty, British and Short” to misquote Thomas Hobbes. It also had the blessing of Cardinal Hume, who apparently did not then quite appreciate the nastiness of Brutish rule in Ireland.

Reading of the thuggish meeting in Trafalgar Square in 1918 and its thuggish endorsement by THE TIMES ( see BLOG –“NOBODY EXPECTS”)  I doubt many pacifist or anti-war meetings were held in Trafalgar Square during “THE GREAT WAR”. Perhaps I missed a TIMES reprint of such a meeting?

I’m given to understand that Hitler and Goebbels admired British propaganda techniques. The NUREMBERG rallies allowed for as much dissent as that Trafalgar Square meeting of July 1918, and the NUREMBERG LAWS of 1935 stripping German citizens of Jewish faith or descent of their citizenship and other rights were consistent with the unanimously acclaimed resolutions passed in Trafalgar Square.

 

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