Cork City Council will not remove a copy of the controversial This Book Is Gay from public libraries, the Lord Mayor has confirmed.
The non-fiction book is aimed at readers below the age of 18 and explores the challenges of growing up LGBTQ - including issues such as sex and relationships.
Protestors believe the book is inappropriate for children and have asked for it to be removed from the library.
“A few months ago, a handful of protestors entered Cork City Library and asked for a particular book to be removed from the shelves,” Lord Mayor Kieran McCarthy told Newstalk Breakfast.
“They filled out the complaint forms in the library and began to address the matter.
“Then, I suppose on Friday there was another handful of protestors entering another library in the suburbs of the city and the staff there chose to lock themselves into their offices.”
Over the weekend, Cork City Library made the decision to shut early because of the protests and Cllr McCarthy said his “empathy” was with the staff.
“This has been really unsettling and very disturbing,” he said.
“Then on Saturday, around 12 noon, a banner was actually put over the door of Cork City Library on the Grand Parade.
“Staff went out to say, ‘You have to take the banner down - it’s a public building, it’s illegal what you’re doing.’
“The Gardaí were called and the Gardaí advised the library [staff] to close the library; it would be deemed unsafe for the public to walk underneath the banner into the library.
“So, the library closed for a period of time.
“The Gardaí took names and asked the group to disperse and that’s where we’re at.”
Cork City Council is a proud member of the Rainbow Cities Network
Cork City is hosting the Network Annual Conference from 17-20 January.
Why not pop into your local library to check out the wide range of LGBT stock within!#CorkCityLibraries #CorkCityCouncil pic.twitter.com/Qkk5lpBkpV
— Cork City Libraries (@corkcitylibrary) January 17, 2023
Despite the protests, Cllr McCarthy said the issue of censorship was nothing new and the library would not be removing the book in question.
“There’s a national library strategy,” he said.
“This book isn’t on prominent display, it’s called This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson.
“There have been many books that have been targeted over the years in various libraries over many decades.”
Cllr McCarthy said if people want to complain about the material stocked by libraries in Cork there are official procedures in place for them to do this but that the “intimidation” of staff had gone “way too far”.
A counter-protest in support of Cork Library staff also took place earlier this month.
Main image: Split of Cork City Library and books.