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Proposed amendment to remove offence of blasphemy from Constitution published

A referendum on the issue is due to be held in October.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE MINISTER FOR Justice Charlie Flanagan has published the wording of the proposed amendment to the Constitution which would remove the offence of blasphemy.

The government announced last September that a referendum on the issue would be held in October. The referendum received Cabinet approval last month.

The Thirty-seventh Amendment would see the word “blasphemous” removed from Article 40.6.1˚i of the Constitution.

Article 40.6.1˚i currently reads:

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

According to the draft legislation sections 36 and 37 of the Defamation Act 2009 would also be repealed.

Minister Flanagan said that he hopes that the debate in the lead up to the vote will be conducted in a calm and inclusive manner.

“I do not believe that this matter is especially controversial and I have every confidence that the proposal to remove blasphemy from our Constitution will meet with a favourable response,” he said.

British TV presenter Stephen Fry famously fell foul of Ireland’s blasphemy laws when he made comments about his beliefs on the Gay Byrne hosted The Meaning of Life in 2015. His comments led a member of the public to make a complaint to Ennis Garda Station.

‘Women’s place in the home’ referendum

The minister told TheJournal.ie today that it is still his intention to hold the ‘women’s place in the home’ referendum in October, alongside the blasphemy referendum and the presidential election.

Due to the legislation for a referendum being referred to the Oireachtas Committee, it had been thought that the ‘women in the home’ referendum would be delayed until the new year.

However, Minister Flanagan said today that he has spoken to the chair of the committee about carrying out whatever work is necessary “at the earliest opportunity” adding that it could be done over the summer months.

He said it is intended both referendums and the presidential election will take place on or around the 25 October.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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