Tomorrow there's going to be a public debate about copyright in the Science Gallery. I was contacted the week before last about participating, but I declined and put the organiser in contact with Paul Durrant from ISPAI instead.
(While I have very strong feelings about online copyright and related topics I thought that someone like Paul would be a better person to talk about it.)
Earlier today Simon McGarr published a piece on Broadsheet.ie claiming that Minister Sean Sherlock had threatened to withdraw from the event tomorrow if Simon attended.
Since I've been in touch with Minister Sherlock on a semi-regular basis since this debacle began I asked him what actually happened and what was actually said.
So he sent me over the below and I have his permission to publish it:
I don't know Simon McGarr personally. I have never met him and I don't know even what he looks like. Sean Nicholls and I have been in touch for some time to organise an open event on Copyright. This will take place tomorrow (Tues). At no stage did I say that if Mr. McGarr was to attend that I would cancel or that a "diary clash" would arise. That is just not true.
I had stated to Sean Nicholls (organiser) that I wanted some balance on the podium. Mr. Murphy (boards.ie), Paul Durant (ISPAI) would act as panellists and John Kennedy (Silicon Republic) would moderate. McGarr's name was also suggested as a panellist. I stated that I did not want to share a podium with someone who generated an online campaign that falsely compared the Statutory Instrument to the US SOPA legislation. I stated to Sean that I had an issue with sharing a podium with Mr McGarr and I would not attend if he was on the podium. I wish to make it clear that I expressly stated that I had no issue with Mr McGarr attending the event and I would be happy for him to do so.
I stated that I wanted to engage with people on this issue and that I was happy that Sean was doing his best to organise the event. I stated that SOPA was completely unrelated to the SI. I stated that Mr McGarr was responsible for causing some reputational damage to this country by deliberately misinterpreting the SI as SOPA.
I felt strongly that, as Research Minister, I was responsible for funding Clarity and Deri and that we do more to attract inward investment from corporates and companies which are based online than any other country in Europe,
I felt strongly that this Government is working every day with start-up companies and that any person that started a campaign that deliberately misinterpreted that legislation should take responsibility for their actions in damaging this country's reputation. In that sense I reserved my right not to share a platform with any body who was acting solely in their own interests and not those of the wider online community who we meet and assist every day.
Have strong feelings on copyright? Then make them heard!
Minister Sherlock has had a change of heart and has said he'd be happy to see Simon McGarr on the panel tomorrow:
— Seán Sherlock (@seansherlocktd) April 2, 2012