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Waterford has banned swearing... so how careful do you have to be?

We investigated.


LAST WEEK, IT was reported that Waterford City and County Council had banned, among other things, swearing in its public parks.

What? No cursing? Say it ain’t so!

The council recently introduced a number of bye-laws in an effort to curb antisocial behaviour in the city’s parks and playgrounds.

And one of the bye-laws clearly states that:

No person shall beg, gamble, use obscene or profane language, behave indecently or cause annoyance.

And what happens if you use “obscene or profane language”? You could be liable for a €1,270 fine.

The news caught many off-guard with some initially suspecting that it was the work of Waterford Whispers.

We at couldn’t help but wonder if it applies to
all cursing? 

For example: if you step in dog s**t, are you allowed to tell your companion that you’ve stepped in dog s**t?  Or what about if you slip and fall, and accidentally say the f-word? Is the word “arse” permitted?

Will guards be deployed to hide in bushes and listen out for people cursing?

So many questions!

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Sinn Féin councillor Pat Fitzgerald told that he believed the law would only apply to swearing in an “antisocial or threatening context”.

I believe the law applies to swearing in an ‘antisocial / threatening context’.  To apply it in any other context, would  I believe, be an unnecessary ‘big brother law’,  an invasion of privacy and impossible to police.

A spokesperson for Waterford City and County Council, meanwhile, told that the rule applied to any language that could be classed as “inappropriate”.

Although they did concede that they don’t have “a definitive list of all banned swear words”.

As you would expect there is not a definitive list of all banned swear words, however the wording gives the context, “profane or obscene language” and it is in the context of obscene and profane language that would cause offence or distress or be inappropriate in its use.


It might be time to add some creative swears to your lexicon, Waterford pals.

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