Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Irish blasphemy update

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It's a while since I blogged about the ongoing fight against Ireland's new blasphemy law, so here's an update. Atheist Ireland, who are spearheading the campaign, have written a letter to the President of the Irish Republic, Mary McAleese, asking her to consider whether the sections of the new Defamation Act concerning blasphemy are constitutional. The letter follows the President's decision to convene a meeting of the Irish Council of State today to discuss the Defamation Act. This is a rare move in Irish politics (this is only the 27th time it has happened in the history of the Republic), and it is the first step in referring a law to the Supreme Court in order to consider its constitutionality.

As things stand, Ireland's blasphemy law is far from being a done deal.


Amadán said...

It's worth remembering that s. 36(3) of the Bill renders most of the offence of Blasphemy effectively unprosecutable:

"(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."

Looks to me like D. Ahern has gone for an Irish solution to an Irish problem. The net effect will be to have a blasphemy offence on the books (as the Constitution seems to require) but the offence will be unprosecutable.

Of course the ideal solution would be to remove the blasphemy provision from Art. 40(6)(1), but you could hardly ask a FF minister to stick his head that far above the parapet, could you?