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The current political situation:
13 January 2015 – Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that a referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy laws from the Irish Constitution will not be held during the lifetime of this Government.
“Mr Kenny said the Coalition felt it is better to put changes recommended by the convention to the people on a phased basis. Mr Kenny said two referendums would be held this year – one on same-sex marriage and another on reducing the voting age for Presidential elections. Both are expected to be held in May. Mr Kenny said he did not want to hold more than two referendums on one day because it might take the focus away from the other issues.”
2 October 2014 – Junior Minister Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin told the Dáil:
“The Government accepts the main recommendation of the [Constitutional Convention], which is that a referendum should be held on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution and hence repealing Ireland’s Blasphemy laws”.
The current blasphemy laws legal situation:
Article 40 of the Irish Constitution states that:
“The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”
Section 36 of the 2009 Defamation Act states that.
“(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if—(a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.
(3) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.
(4) In this section “ religion ” does not include an organisation or cult—(a) the principal object of which is the making of profit, or (b) that employs oppressive psychological manipulation—(i) of its followers, or (ii) for the purpose of gaining new followers.”
Atheist Ireland has campaigned consistently against the blasphemy laws in Ireland. We have explicitly highlighted the chilling effect of this legislation at home, but our opposition to the...
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