DUBLIN — A county council in Ireland is calling on the education ministry to review the school curriculum for books containing allegedly offensive language.
The council in Meath, a county adjoining capital Dublin, is petitioning the Department of Education and Skills to consider purging novels such as “Of Mice and Men” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the latter a Pulitzer Prize-winning anti-racism parable.
Citing conversations with mixed-race families, councillor Alan Lawes said on Friday that the books caused students to use “certain racial slurs” against classmates.
“I don’t think 12-year-olds have the mental capacity to deal with such books,” Lawes said, discussing the council’s request on Newstalk, a Dublin radio station.
Ex-diplomat Eamon Delaney said on the station that people should be “wary of banning books … it is censorship.”
The Irish government said on Friday that schools will reopen in August after closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Education Minister Norma Foley plans to announce details of the reopening on Monday. Her ministry has not commented on the request to remove the novels from classrooms.
John Steibeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” are set in the 1930s in the United States, where tens of millions of people claim Irish ancestry.
Recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US were emulated in dozens of countries – including Ireland – where the economy depends heavily on investment from the US, Ireland’s biggest trade partner.
Lawes said the demand to remove the books was unrelated to the protests.
Out of a population of 4.76 million, Ireland’s 2016 census listed over 810,000 people as having been born outside the country.Show