Atheists not hopeful of ‘blasphemy’ referendum, in spite of UN pressure
The chariman of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent, says in the interview with The Journal that he doesn’t believe the Government has any plans to address the issue of Ireland’s blasphemy laws.
It follows the UN Human Rights Committee’s recommendation this week that the State should consider removing the prohibition of the offence from the Constitution.
The offence — controversially re-introduced in 2009 — states that a person found guilty of the publication or utterance of “blasphemous matter” can be fined up to €25,000.
Material that’s “grossly abusive or insulting” in relation to “matters held sacred by any religion” can count as blasphemy when the intent is to “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”.
The Constitutional Convention recommended that the offence be removed from law and replaced with a provision on incitement to religious hatred, after a vote last November.
But there’s been no formal response from the Government yet on whether a referendum will take place — even though one was supposed to be forthcoming within four months of the Convention’s decision.
“It’s hard to tell what this Government is going to do, but I don’t think they’ve a long term strategy on this,” says Nugent.
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