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Proposed Visit of David Irving to Cork, November 1999 (see Irish Times report)


David Irving, 'historian' and self-avowed fascist, has been invited to address the Philosophical Society, University College Cork, this week on Monday 15 November. I believe that this is a most regrettable invitation which should, even at this late stage, be withdrawn.

Irving is no ordinary historian, but a proven liar with fascist sympathies, who denies the existence of the Holocaust. An anti-Semite and Nazi sympathiser, he has been banned from other countries and other campuses.

The search for knowledge and truth, however understood and however differently expressed, is fundamental to the very life of a university. Staff of the University (as well as students), in pursuit of their own right of free speech, also have the right to dissent in matters of intellectual, political and moral judgement.  I dissent most profoundly from the decision made by the Philosophical Society, which I believe can only bring shame to our campus.

It may be argued that the principle of freedom of speech is sacrosanct. The then President of the University pointed out in a letter to the Irish Times on the last occasion (1993) when an attempt was made to invite Mr Irving, that "hearing, discussing and evaluating a range of scientific or political views which is as wide as possible" is part of the mission of a university, even where such views may be reprehensible to the average person. On that occasion the invitation was cancelled but on grounds of security, not the desirability or otherwise of this individual being allowed to speak on campus. In the case of Galway a different view was taken and the UCG authorities took an unequivocal decision to ban him outright.

Mr Irving cannot be regarded as an ordinary visitor and his views are not ordinary views, even though they are couched in the language of historical, political and scientific debate. He has attempted to deny the existence of gas-chambers, is a self-proclaimed fascist and attributed opposition to his last visit to Ireland to the "Irish-Jewish organisation" (Irish Times, Tuesday 12 October 1993).

Freedom of speech is an important principle, but the deliberate propagation of falsehood and the distortion of the historical record in the pursuit of racist and bigoted theses is quite another matter.

Ireland has escaped much of the worst of the recent resurgence of ethnic and racist violence, including anti-Semitism, which has been increasing sharply in other parts of Europe in recent years (e.g. the recent Austrian elections, the Front National in France and the Vlaams Blok in Belgium). However, the reasons for this are largely fortuitous. Ours is a traditionally mono-cultural and mono-ethnic society, which for a variety of reasons has not had to grapple with the terrible legacy of European intolerance and ethnic genocide on a large scale. Where we have encountered difference, even on a small scale, we cannot be said to have risen gloriously to the occasion. Moreover, the policy lacunae which are becoming all too evident in our current treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and other immigrants have created a dangerous vacuum in which racism can and does flourish.

That we should have had the good fortune to escape the worst excesses of racism so far should not blind us to our intellectual and moral responsibilities. Mr Irving is part of an ugly undercurrent, flowing from the darkest sources of the European tradition, which threatens to drown us anew in a sea of bigotry and irrational violence.

Whether the UCC Philosophical Society is merely naive, or seeking publicity for themselves, or worse, must be a matter for conjecture.

Ireland is facing a difficult conjuncture, in which the growth of home-grown racist movements such as the Immigration Control Platform, as well as the failure of Irish politicians and Irish society to address the new realities of a changing, multicultural country, pose new and serious problems. 

David Irving should not be made welcome on our campus. I suggest that, if you agree, you can make your views known by emailing a short message to the President at President@ucc.ie and/or this site migration@ucc.ie. Naturally, I appreciate that many colleagues may not agree.

If you are in the Cork region, you may wish to register your protest in person.

Piaras Mac Éinrí


Irish Centre for Migration Studies


Irving's lecture did not take place. About 600 protestors turned up and many emails and telephone messages were also received calling for the invitation to be withdrawn. The lecture was cancelled by the College authorities on security grounds following advice from the Gárdai.

The protestors included a minority of violent thugs whose 'anti-fascism' closely resembled the tactics and practices of those they purport to oppose. These people attacked UCC security staff and Gárdai. They are not democrats and represent no-one but themselves.

For newspaper reports see the Examiner and Irish Times.

Listen to a RealAudio RTÉ report


For more information about David Irving, see the following:

Reports mentioning David Irving & Related Material

Government Reports & Legal Material about David Irving

Other links

With special thanks to: The Nizkor Project (the site has many more links on Irving)


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Migration Studies at the Department of Geography, University College Cork/Roinn an Tíolais, Coláiste na hOllscoile, Corcaigh
Tel/Guthán 353 21 4902889 email/post leictreonach migration@ucc.ie