State should hold copyright to national anthem, Daly says

Paul Galvin’s commercial use of Amhrán na bhFiann is ‘inappropriate’, Senator claims

The national anthem should be brought back in to copyright to avoid commercial abuse, Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has said.

The copyright on Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song) expired in December 2012, 70 years after the death of its author Peadar Kearney.

The copyright had been held by the State prior to December 2012.

Mr Daly said he had tried to work with the Chief Whip’s office to get all-party support for his National Anthem Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill, “but got nowhere”.


He said the anthem has a special resonance with the Rising and was sung in the GPO during Easter Week, 1916.

“It is appropriate that [the anthem] would be protected in the State that was established by the men and women of 1916.”

The Bill, which has just two clauses, states that the national anthem is “deemed always to have subsisted, and is hereby vested, for an indefinite period, in the State”.

Mr Daly also described as "inappropriate" the use of words from the English language version of the national anthem in ex-GAA footballer Paul Galvin's Vanguard fashion line for Dunnes Stores.

Mr Daly said Mr Galvin’s use of the national anthem for commercial purposes is the “exact reason” why he has put forward a Bill to bring the anthem back in to copyright.

"Paul Galvin is a great footballer, but his use of the national anthem for commercial purposes is inappropriate," he said.

Broken promise

Mr Daly said Fine Gael had given a commitment at the time to retain the copyright on the national anthem, but had reneged on the promise.

"It's clear from the Government's lack of urgency here that Fine Gael and Labour cannot be trusted with the protection of key cultural symbols in a year of centenary celebration," he said.

“The National Anthem Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill would provide open-ended protection so we wouldn’t find ourselves in this position again.

"I believe it is an important and straightforward piece of legislation that can secure cross-party support in the Oireachtas and I am urging Government to accept this proposal in a constructive manner."

The copyright of the national anthem had been the responsibility of the Department of Finance.

A spokesman for the department said most national anthems are out of copyright and it does not intend to bring it back in to copyright.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times