University Times threatened with legal action over Iona Institute articles

Ian Curran

News Editor

Clarification (11/03/13 18:30): This article initially stated that Mr. Quinn “contested” Google’s claim that the Iona Institute’s YouTube account was not closed for reasons of censorship. In fact, while he initially contested this, he later accepted that this was an “automatic procedure on their part.”

Institute sends letter claiming defamation after articles challenging conservative think-tank and anti-gay marriage video

Trinity News has learned that the University Times has been threatened with legal action by the founder of the Iona Institute, David Quinn. The newspaper is accused of publishing two allegedly defamatory articles in early January about an online video that the Catholic conservative organisation produced entitled The Case for Man / Woman Marriage.

In early January the UT published two articles which directly confronted the line of argumentation that the video used. The articles were entitled “What Lies Behind the Facade?” and “Queerly Beloved.” Both articles were written by Trinity students, Conor Kenny and Paul Doyle respectively. The video in question argues that the position of heterosexual union in society is “unique” in so far as it allows for the creation of human life.

The video states that because heterosexual union is in this way “unique” and distinct from homosexual partnerships that it is not discrimination on the part of the state to treat the two situations differently. Moreover, it calls on viewers to not “change the message of marriage by re-defining it.” After the release of this video, the Iona Institute’s Youtube account was temporarily shut down and then reinstated. Google stated that it was not shut down for reasons of censorship, a claim that has been contested by the founder of the Institute, David Quinn.

The Iona Institute is an organisation that is involved in the pro-life campaign in Ireland and also in the campaign against gay marriage. It describes itself as a body that “promotes the place of marriage and religion in society.”

University Times editor and TCDSU Communications officer, Owen Bennett told Trinity News that he had received a letter last week from a solicitor representing Mr Quinn. Both articles, he said, “have been removed as a temporary [emphasis original] measure pending a resolution to this matter.” According to Bennett the articles in question “strongly attack the video and the reasoning which informs it.” Bennett stated that according to the letter, Quinn felt “personally defamed” by certain references made to him in Kenny’s article.

However, Bennett could not testify as to what the exact reference in the article was for fear that it would “prejudice” his defence. Moreover, Bennett said that the Quinn was “upset” by the portrayal of the Institute as a “discriminatory” organisation. Bennet told TN that for Mr Quinn, the article amounted to “slander” and that the Iona Institute is seeking a full retraction of the story. The UT editor further stated that the Institute expressed a preference for “non-monetary” compensation such as an apology or the “right of reply” to the article and has said that it would prefer to not have to take legal action.

At the time of going to print the Iona Institute had not responded to a request for comment.