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Cork, Thursday, March 6, 2008
prompts University College Cork to up debate
A HUGE security operation is
planned around a free-speech debate in Cork next
week featuring controversial right-wing
historian David Irving.
Organisers in University College Cork's
Philosophical Debating Society confirmed last
night that the event, featuring the convicted
Holocaust denier, will go ahead on Monday night
[March 10, 2008] despite threats.
Society auditor Ross Frenett said both
he and the society had received threatening
phone calls and abusive messages since it was
confirmed Mr Irving had accepted their
invitation to attend the debate.
Posts on a white-supremacists website have
also urged Irving sympathisers to travel to Cork
to support the event.
The society had invited Mr Irving to UCC in 1999
[photo above] but the lecture was
cancelled at the last minute amid security
concerns. About 600 protesters gathered outside
the UCC venue where Mr Irving was to deliver a
lecture, Myths of the Second World
Scuffles broke out with gardaí before
reinforcements were called in. Two college
security guards and a number of students were
injured in the scuffles.
The incident led to the removal of college
facilities and privileges from Young Sinn
Féin, the Socialist Party, the Socialist
Society and the Socialist Worker Society, which
had all been involved in the protest
Mr Frenett said organisers of Monday's debate
are anxious to avoid a repeat of that
"We have no problem with protest but our
number one concern is public safety," he
"We are confident that the steps we are
taking will help us avoid the pitfalls of the
He said they have been, and are continuing to
liaise closely with college authorities and
gardaí, and steps are being taken to
ensure security and public safety.
Mr Frenett said:
- The location of the debate will be kept
secret until the last minute. Just four
people are aware of the venue.
- People must register online to get access
to the event.
- Those who have registered will be vetted
to ensure they have not made threats before
being cleared to attend.
- Extra college security staff, backed up
by private security firms, will be involved
in the security operation.
"You can't just stop people from speaking
because you don't agree with them," said Mr
"We have more faith in people than that. This
is a debate and I fully expect Mr Irving's views
to be strongly challenged.
"He won't get an easy ride. We have had a
number of high-profile speakers in the past and
we don't endorse their views."
Mr Irving, 69, was found guilty by an
Austrian court of denying the Holocaust
Wrong, Mr Irving was convicted under the May 8,
1945 Stalin-era law for the prohibition of the
NSDAP] and sentenced to three
years in prison.
He had pleaded guilty to the charge, based on
a speech and interview he gave in Austria in
He served a prison sentence from February to
[November 11, 2005
to December 21, 2006].
Mr Irving will speak in favour of the motion
"That this house believes free speech should be
free from restraint".
However, Socialist Party city councillor
Mick Barry said the invitation should be
He urged members of the general public to
email UCC president Michael Murphy and
the Philosophy Society to demand that the
invitation be withdrawn.