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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# The Meaning of Life
Stephen Fry says he was 'enchanted' to be caught up in blasphemy row
He described our “unworkable” blasphemy legislation as “a wonderfully Irish solution”.

fry PBG / EMPICS Entertainment Stephen Fry PBG / EMPICS Entertainment / EMPICS Entertainment

STEPHEN FRY HAS said he was “enchanted” after it emerged comments he made about God were reportedly being investigated by gardaí.

The British actor and writer spoke about the controversy while being interviewed by Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1 today.

Fry appeared on an episode of Gay Byrne’s The Meaning of Life in February 2015. In the interview Byrne asked Fry, an atheist, what he would say to God if he met him at the “pearly gates” when he died.

“I’ll say: bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you. How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.

“Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain? That’s what I would say.”


Earlier this year, the Irish Independent reported that a complaint had been made to gardaí about the comments, from someone who claimed they were contrary to Ireland’s blasphemy laws.

When asked about the controversy today, Fry said it was “extraordinary” and “the oddest thing”.

“I got wonderful letters from people who hoped of course that I would appear in court because they wanted it to come to court. They thought it would just be the most fantastic street drama in Dublin if I was going to be carried in chains into the courtroom,” he told Finucane.

‘A wonderfully Irish solution’

A referendum on Ireland’s blasphemy legislation, which was introduced by then Justice Minister Dermot Ahern in 2009, is expected to be held next year.

Speaking about the interview with Byrne, Fry said he was asked a “hypothetical” question and gave an honest answer, adding that he “wasn’t being flippant”.

“I sort of let fly with my complaints against [God] and this was apparently considered blasphemous even though it was a hypothetical.

But it being Ireland, without wishing to overdo the ‘Oirishy’ side of Ireland, I discovered from the person who actually framed the blasphemy law that it was deliberately framed in order to be unworkable.

“That’s a wonderfully Irish solution to the fact that there was a pre-existing blasphemy law and they thought that was absurd. It would have taken a referendum to get rid of it so the easiest thing was to just engineer it a little so that it became preposterous,” Fry said.

He added that he was “pleased” when gardaí couldn’t find enough people who were outraged by his comments in order to take it any further.

Read: ‘The joke is actually on us’: Dáil to decide on bill to abolish blasphemy as a crime

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

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