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David Irving during the interview
David Irving

Correspondence between the National University of Ireland (NUIG) in Galway students and David Irving, inviting him to speak, then withdrawing the invitation under pressure

Thursday, January 8, 2009
The Invitation
The Literary and Debating Society
162nd Session
Nunc Nunc Qui Timet Eloqui
Estd. 1846

Dear Mr. Irving


MailI AM contacting you on behalf of the Literary & Debating Society of the National University of Ireland, Galway to argue your position on the details of the Nazi Holocaust at a debate hosted by our society.

The Lit & Deb (as it is commonly known), heading into its 162nd year, is a student organisation which is the largest and oldest in the university. We provide a forum for free speech and debate where students and staff can challenge the issues of the day, practicing the skills of oratory and critical thinking. Everything from politics and human rights to literature and sport are fair game for discussion inside the walls of the Literary and Debating Society. With our weekly debates, guest speaker and literary events, Lit & Deb offers an enriched experience of university, outside of the confines of lectures and exam halls.

We would like to invite you to explain your ideas, present evidence for them and allow them to be challenged by a member of the Department of History, here in NUI Galway. We believe that your right to speak and students right to hear what have to say is essential to a free and open society. The Lit & Deb's role in our university is promote this fundamentally important right for speech to be free without qualifying factors of popularity and palatability. When we define which minority opinion can be heard and which cannot, democracy is not truly representing the people who live under it. It is institutions like the Lit & Deb and individuals like you, Mr. Irving, which challenge this flexibility and strength.

Unfortunately, that flexibility and strength has not been upheld in recent events. I refer, in particular, to your scheduled appearance at our equivalent society in University College Cork. It is clear, there are those who oppose your theories on the holocaust, to the extent that they would not want you to speak at all. There are these people in our university as there is in any. The limits of freedom of speech and where a society or a university should draw the line is a debate in and of itself and, in order to give your appearance at our society the legitimacy it needs to go ahead successfully, we will have a referendum of our members before the event, similar to what they did in the Oxford Union. It is our hope that by doing this, your own appearance can then be about explaining your ideas and will not be needlessly bogged down in questions over whether or not your free speech should be permitted.

The Society would host you in a hotel in Galway city centre for the duration of your stay and cover all transport and accommodation costs. We will guarantee your safety and the safety of the audience and if this cannot be provided on campus, as was the case in UCC, we will move then event off campus and employ a private security company.

Thank you very much for taking the time to consider this invitation. We hope that you will agree in principal to speak at our society and submit your theories to the rigour of fair and open debate so that people can decide for themselves what they believe. The referendum, I believe, will pass because in our experience, most people are curious and wish to scrutinise. They want to hear all sides of the story before they make up their minds and are naturally suspicious of having some information filtered out through censorship before they can hear it.

This year will mark a turning point for our Society. We aim to involve more students than ever in public speaking and analytical, political thinking. We envisage your visit should you agree to come to be a further highlight. I have attached a PDF for more information on the Literary and Debating Society and please to not hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Colley
162nd Session
Literary & Debating Society
National University of Ireland, Galway.

10:23 a.m Windsor, UK, Thursday, January 8, 2009

MailI accept of course your very kind invitation, and the sooner we agree on dates the better, as my year's calendar soon fills and it becomes increasingly complicated. Throw some dates (or periods) at me, and we can nail this down today. We can then discuss security, an important issue unfortunately.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

MailI am wondering about the outcome of the "debate on the debate", and whether the invitation is going ahead; I do have to make plans around it, of course, and in good time.

Mr Irving inquires, Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Either your security is 100% or something untoward has happened to your planned Galway debate? I have not heard from you for some time, and am growing concerned, as we also have plans to fit in at this end, and so far we have reserved those days for you. Please keep me up to date with the debate and above all with the travel planning!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009:

MailI'm afraid we do have a problem though it's not security. From the week when the motion was passed on 22nd of January, up until yesterday, we have had great trouble finding and opposition speaker who was both willing and available to speak at this debate. While there were a number of interesting and qualified speakers but none were available for the 19thMarch. Yesterday we decided that it was not going to happen in time and would like to postpone the debate until September/October when we will have a good opposition speaker in place.

I am very sorry indeed for this last-minute change in your schedule that we have had to impose and the inconvenience it must cause you. I hope that you are available in September/October either August 24, 2009 or the October 1, 2009. Would either of those dates be amenable to you?

Once again, I apologise for this inconvenience but I hope you agree that it's for the sake of the having the best possible debate on the issue of the Holocaust.


Dan Colley

The Literary and Debating Society
162nd Session
Nunc Nunc Qui Timet Eloqui

Estd. 1846

Mr Irving replies, Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MailI am very sorry to hear that. I appreciate that you have had difficulties, but leaving me in the dark until just one week ahead of the function was not good. Only this morning I have had to reject two important ... appointments made for March 19 and 20, as I had set aside those dates for Galway. I keep my promises.

I advised you in January when you made this fixture that my calendar-year fills up very quickly, and I cannot guarantee you any firm dates in September or October 2009. If you will contact me closer to the dates you re-plan this event, I will see if I can fit you in.

Again, this is frustrating. Had I booked hotels and air tickets I would be out of pocket; this has now left a hole in my calendar which I would have used differently.

September 11, 2009:


MailMy name is Robin Allen, and I am the auditor of the National University of Ireland, Galway, Food & Drink Society. I have emailed you in the past concerning the reasoning behind our Literary & Debating Society failed attempt to organise your appearance in a safe and controlled manner

By now you may have guessed that I am about to make the same request. In fact, the request is more so to have a discussion on the finer things in life, such as food, wine and lifestyles, and of course you will be given an ample chance to air your views and defend your position. While I may not agree with you, after the failed appearance there was a building outcry to allow freedom of speech and so I decided that I would be morally remiss if I were to deny the many what they desire because of the actions of the few.

If you are interested in discussing this further, feel free to contact me so as to discuss this further, if not, thank you for your time.

Robin Allen
Auditor, N.U.I, Galway Food & Drink Society


The Invitation Withdrawn

September 30, 2009:

The National University of Ireland in Galway has finally cancelled the invitation:

Mail I regret to inform you that we have to permanently cancel your visit to the Literary and Debating Society at the National University of Ireland, Galway. As you are aware, we postponed the event last March as we had been unable to secure a suitable opposition speaker. We revisited the plan for holding the event at the beginning of this academic year and unfortunately the university are not letting us proceed for safety reasons. The university authorities carried out a safety review which included consideration of the reaction to the planned debate on various websites and consultation with security personnel with relevant experience in other universities. On the basis of this review, the Vice-President for Physical Resources informed us that, in his capacity as Director of Safety, he was unable to permit use of the University's facilities for the debate on the grounds that there would be an unacceptable risk to the safety and well-being of security staff, students and others who might be in attendance. My apologies.

Jacqueline Driscoll,
Literary and Debating Society
163rd Session
National University of Ireland, Galway


David Irving comments: "These enemy tactics are difficult to counter, and would succeed totally were it not for the Internet: Smear and silence by threats of violence."




Our dossier on the Origins of Anti-Semitism
Irish National University, Galway, forced to withdraw invitation to David Irving to speak
visit by controversial historian cancelled due to 'security concerns

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