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Most people would vote to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution

A Claire Byrne Live poll found that 52% of people believe there should be a referendum on the issue.

TV Presenter Stephen Fry was accused of blasphemy for utterances in an interview with Gay Byrne.
TV Presenter Stephen Fry was accused of blasphemy for utterances in an interview with Gay Byrne.
Image: Dominic Lipinski PA Wire/PA Images

A MAJORITY OF people believe that there should be a referendum on the issue of removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

And, according to the poll carried out by Amarách Research for Claire Byrne Live, 62% of Irish people said they would vote to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

While 52% of people said there should be a referendum on the issue, 33% disagreed while 15% didn’t know.

When asked how they’d vote on the matter, 14% said they would keep it in the Constitution while 24% said they didn’t know.

The Defamation Act 2009 prohibits the utterance or publication of “blasphemous matter”. As for what constitutes blasphemy, the legislation defines a person as saying or publicising “blasphemous matter” if:

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, or
He or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerns, to cause such outrage.

This topic hit the news again just this week, after it emerged that a complaint had been made to An Garda Síochana about comments made by TV presenter and writer Stephen Fry on an RTÉ show.

During the show, Fry told host Gay Byrne that he believed God is “quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish”.

Speaking on the matter, Health Minister Simon Harris called Ireland’s blasphemy law “silly” and said he’d like a referendum on the issue in the near future.

Read: Simon Harris says Ireland’s blasphemy laws are ‘silly’ and ‘embarrassing’

Read: Gardaí ‘not commenting’ on complaint of blasphemy against Stephen Fry

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Sean Murray

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