By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The High Court has lifted the six-month ban on listings magazine In Dublin, describing the decision of the Censorship of Publications Board as "incredible" and "reprehensible."
Justice Diarmuid O’Donovan said the ban had been unfair to the magazine’s publisher, Mike Hogan, by refusing to meet him. It had banned the fortnightly for being "usually or frequently been indecent or obscene."
He restored In Dublin to the newsstands until the High Court reviews the validity of the ban, but he directed that no advertisements for "health clubs" or "escort agencies" be carried.
The Cork-based Examiner newspaper also decided not to carry the small advertisements after Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne said advertising a brothel or the services of a prostitute was an offense under the 1994 Criminal Justice Act.
O’Donovan said it had been "nothing less than reprehensible" for the Censorship Board to suppress the fact that it had predetermined the fate of In Dublin while conducting a correspondence as to its future.
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The board, he said, had failed to confirm its objections were limited to advertisements or what changes it would consider acceptable.
The decision to impose the ban had been taken on April 18 but Hogan was not informed until Aug. 3 and the ban took effect Aug. 10.
O’Donovan said the board was obliged to adhere to the principles of natural and constitutional justice and basic fair procedure.
The judge said it was not for him to decide if the complaint made to the censors was justified or not.
Hogan said his problem all along had been that the five-member board of censors would not meet him. "Maybe they didn’t have a provision under the legislation under which they could have met us," he said.
He said he would make a long-term decision on the lucrative advertisements after the judicial review delivered a verdict on them. He said In Dublin was commercially successful with or without the revenue from the advertisements.