Celebration of free speech at Limerick Spring Festival 

THE BIG DEBATE: SERIES OF CITY EVENTS EXAMINED POLITICS, DEMOCRACY AND 1916 CENTENARY

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Celebration of free speech at Limerick Spring Festival 

Kids get an insight into art and poetry at the Rumpus Kids Magazine launch Picture: Shane Serrano

FREEDOM of expression, democracy and politics were the drivers behind the third annual Limerick Spring Festival, which wrapped up yesterday evening.

From Thursday afternoon to Sunday evening, several events took place, ranging from theatrical displays, musical perfo-rmances, kids art workshops, panel discussions and interactive debates.

During the week, events included the festival-opener Minding the Idealist workshop for those involved in campaigns; cake and coffee at the Salon Du Chat on Thursday; and a night of protest music celebration at The Revolution Will Not Be Spotified in Dolan’s, on Friday night.

The Big Debate, which was the flagship event of the festival, took place at Dolan’s Warehouse, and included a panel of eminent figures, such as Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, UCC sociologist Kieran Keohane, activist Siobhan O’Donoghue, Education Equality’s April Duff, and Seanad candidates Tom Clonan and Lynn Ruane. The debate was chaired by comedian Tara Flynn.

On Sunday morning, the Brunch newspaper review took place at the Strand, and reviewing the weekend headlines were Limerick Leader editor, Alan English, freelance journalist Kathyrn Hayes, and comedian Paddy Cullivan. It was chaired by University of Limerick journalism lecturer, Henry Silke.

Festival organiser Jennifer Moroney Ward said that the series of events was about “celebrating the idea of free speech”.

“We heard journalists, here, talking about the pressures that they are under, journalistically, to not voice opinions because of defamation laws, because they are afraid to speak out against various media owners.”

She also praised the festival’s interactive debates. 

“It’s so important that everyone can say something in a safe place, and that everybody’s opinion would be listened to, respectfully. That is proper debate, and that is what should happen. And once you don’t do that, you are going down a very dark road.”

The festival ended with Paddy Cullivan’s ‘The Ten Dark Secrets of 1916 (And how they shaped Ireland)’ performance in Dolan’s.

Pick up this weekend’s broadsheet editions for more Limerick Spring coverage.