Tag Archives: freedom to write

Summary of Irish PEN Campaigns and Statements, April-June 2021

On 28th April, Poetry Day Ireland, a team of Board members tweeted extracts from work by poets from Myanmar at regular intervals throughout the day.

Since our last newsletter we have issued statements in response to the shocking rendition of journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich and student Sofia Sapega in Belarus and sent messages of support to our colleagues in PEN Belarus.

“Irish PEN/PEN n hÉireann utterly condemns the actions of the Belarus Administration in forcing the diversion of a Ryanair flight for the purpose of extracting and holding a journalist and his companion.”

We also issued a statement against the online harrassment of journalists on Social Media, quoted by Martina Devlin in her Irish Independent column on Saturday 15th May: “Irish PEN unreservedly condemns online attacks on journalists, which have real and damaging effects on writer’s ability to work and speak freely. Such attacks represent a direct threat to freedoms of thought and speech and by extension, to democracy itself.”

In this context, we’d like to draw your attention to Julie Posetti’s UNESCO document on violence/harassment against female journalists: The Chilling

and to The English PEN paper on Online Harms:

On 20th May 2021, we joined 49 other PEN Centres in a statement calling for the release of Osman Kavala .

Our co-operation with PEN Centres in England, Scotland and Wales continues, with exchanges of news and ideas and some co-operative actions, along with plans for future joint projects.

Our Freedom to Write sub-committee has joined the TURKEY ACTION GROUP. A representative attended the first meeting of this group which was both deeply interesting, as we learned of the work of other Centres, and alarming as we heard of the further erosion of rights in Turkey.

Members of the Board attended the Writers for Peace conference via Zoom, 9-11 June.

Irish PEN/Freedom to Write Merger

As we announced in our last newsletter to members, we have had a dedicated but diminishing committee running Irish PEN for some time. As Chair I’ve been in situ on committee for much longer than is healthy in any organisation and have been looking at ways to move Irish PEN forwards.

As a committee, we agreed that the events aspect of Irish PEN’s activities, which has been so valuable in the past, has been superseded by the vast numbers of festivals and other author events now running. Our feeling was, that in the current political climate, Irish PEN needed to become involved much more with PEN International’s activities, focusing on free speech and using our status as a PEN centre in a neutral country to PEN’s advantage.

We were not alone in this, and Freedom to Write, a subgroup of dedicated writers (whom you will all be familiar with) from the Word group at the Irish Writers Centre, also felt the need for action and began to do exactly this.

Many of the Freedom to Write group are PEN members. And Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Catherine Dunne are past Award winners. So they all understand Irish PEN. We are delighted to announce that Freedom to Write have agreed to merge with Irish PEN to produce a new organisation with a new constitution in line with our shared goals.

Freedom to Write group have agreed to act as a steering committee while guiding the transition to a completely new Irish PEN. The new Irish PEN will be launched in November. An AGM will follow in the New Year when a new committee will be formed, as elected by Irish PEN members. In the meantime, the Freedom to Write Campaign will continue its support of the PEN charter through various actions, carried out in the name of Irish PEN/The Freedom to Write Campaign. Those who have paid their membership for 2020 will automatically move across to the re-energised organisation, although those on subscriptions may have to set up new ones to the new organisation in 2021.

We want to build PEN into a real voice for writers and will be asking you to sign up to a new mailing list (GDPR compliant) in order to keep you informed of actions and events.

On a personal note, I will be retiring as chair,  and news of your new committee will be communicated in the autumn. Until then, Freedom to Write will become custodians of our vital tradition, ensuring the new organisation is built on firm ground.

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin

Photo by Simon Robinson

Freedom to Write and Irish PEN by Lia Mills

Who we are: The Freedom to Write Campaign (Ireland) is an informal, independent group of writers that has emerged from WORD, a professional writers’ network associated with the Irish Writers Centre.

We work to promote Freedom of Expression by raising public awareness about writers who are at risk, or in prison, or who have been murdered because of their writing. During the last two years, our members have worked with, among others, Irish PEN, PEN International, the Irish Writers Centre, Poetry Ireland, Fighting Words and Front Line Defenders, on events and campaigns to promote the work of writers who are at risk or in prison.

We have taken part in various festivals, such as Listowel Writers’ Week, the Red Line Festival and the Belfast Book Festival. Some of us have contributed to the recent anthology of essays Yes, We Still Drink Coffee!, by and about women Human Rights Defenders at risk (published by Front line Defenders and Fighting Words).

We are:

  • June Considine
  • Catherine Dunne
  • Kate Ennals
  • Sophia Hillan
  • Liz McManus
  • Maria McManus
  • Lia Mills
  • Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

When the current committee invited us to consider stepping up to devise and manage a reorganisation and revitalisation of Irish PEN, the idea made a lot of sense to us; the work we already do is based on the PEN charter and we have had consistent support and encouragement from PEN International from the start.

We are looking forward to this challenge and the adventure of changing our existing structure to conform to PEN conventions, while redesigning a constitution for a new and invigorated Irish PEN to move into the decade ahead.  We’re excited to meet and work with both existing and new members.

There will be a period of transition this summer while we manage administrative changes, to be followed

by a complete relaunch in November and a subsequent AGM early in 2021 – the centenary year of PEN International.

Letter to President Vladimir Putin

Свобода писать

Принадлежность к ирландскому филиалу PEN / PEN Международный / Word


Президенту Российской Федерации

Владимир Владимирович Путин

Ул. Ильинка, 23

103132 Москва

Российская Федерация

15 ноября 2018 года

Ирландская кампания «Свобода писать» и ирландский филиал PEN считают, что Олег Сенцов был заключен в тюрьму исключительно из-за его оппозиции к оккупации России и «аннексии» Крыма. Мы призываем российских властей немедленно освободить его и уважать человеческие права Олега Сценцова. Мы также призываем немедленное прекращение пыток и другого жестокого обращения, а также право на медицинскую помощь.

Мы также призываем российских власте освободить всех, кто заключен исключительно за то,  хотят свободно выразить свое право на  свободу слова, и вернуть всех украинских граждан, которые в настоящее время находятся в тюрме в России, на территории Украины, в соответствии с требованиями международного права.

Подписано в поддержку Международного дня PENa в поддержку заключенного писателя.

Священник  Anthony J Gaughan, президент ирландского филиала PEN

June Considine, основатель слова / сопредседатель Свобода писать

Ванесса О’Локлин, президент Ирландского филиала PEN

Frank Geary, сопредседатель Свобода писать / ирландского филиала PEN

Lia Mills, секретарь Свобода писать

Timmy Conway, секретарь ирландского филиала PEN

Padraig Hanratty, секретарь членства ирландского филиала

Anthony Glavin

Caroline Graham

Catherine Dunne

Celia de Fréine

Ciaran Buckley

Danial Seery

Eamonn Lynskey Fiona O’Rourke

Helen Dwyer

Kate Ennals

Katie Donovan

Lissa Oliver

Liz McManus

Liz McSkeane

Sue Leonard

Mia Gallagher

Phyllis McDonald

Dermot Bolger

E.R. Murray

Margo O’Gorman

Mary Rose Callaghan

Nell Regan

Roderick Ford

Michelle Considine

Paul Perry

Brian Lynch

Jean O’Brien

Amy Gaffney

Cathy Day

Orla Day

Christina Cope

С уважением,

June Considine


November 14, 2018

For the attention of;

Mr Yury Filatov, Ambassador

Russian Embassy in Dublin, Ireland
184 – 186 Orwell Road
Dublin 14

Dear Ambassador Filatov,

The Irish Freedom to Write campaign and Irish PEN believe that Oleg Sentsov was imprisoned solely because of his opposition to Russia’s occupation and illegal ‘annexation’ of Crimea. We call on the Russian authorities to release him immediately and to respect Oleg Sentsov’s human rights, including the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and his right to medical attention.

 We further call on the Russian Authorities to free all who are held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and to return all Ukrainian nationals who are currently held in Russia to Ukraine, as required by international law.

Signed in support of Pen International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer