Thursday 17 August 2017

Gay Byrne brands Stephen Fry inquiry 'ridiculous nonsense' as blasphemy case dropped

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne. Photo: Mark Condren
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne. Photo: Mark Condren

Kevin Doyle and Cathal McMahon

Broadcaster Gay Byrne has described the blasphemy investigation against Stephen Fry as "ridiculous nonsense" after gardaí decided to drop the probe.

Officers will not proceed with the inquiry after failing to find a substantial number of people who were outraged by the English actor's comments about God.

In a conversation with Byrne on RTÉ's 'The Meaning of Life' in 2015, Fry described God as "capricious", "mean-minded" and "stupid" for allowing so much suffering in the world.

Following the broadcast, a man, who asked not to be identified, made a report to Ennis garda station alleging the comments were blasphemous and illegal under laws introduced in 2009.

Byrne had declined to comment on the controversy while the Garda investigation was ongoing, but speaking to the Irish Independent last night he described it as "a piece of silliness".

"Obviously everybody who has reacted to me about it, they all thought it was ridiculous nonsense.

Stephen Fry. Photo: GETTY
Stephen Fry. Photo: GETTY

"I attach very little relevance to it. I've had 60 years of it now," he said.

Gardaí have now contacted the man who made the complaint to say they would not be pursuing the case.

Read more: Stephen Fry blasphemy probe dropped after gardaí fail to find 'substantial number of outraged people'

He told gardaí he was happy he had done his civic duty by reporting what he believed could be a crime under the current law. It is understood that detectives were unable to proceed with the investigation as there was no injured party.

Under the controversial legislation, introduced by then justice minister Dermot Ahern in 2009, it is illegal to publish or utter a matter that is "grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion".

A well-placed source said: "This man was simply a witness and not an injured party. Gardaí were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people.

"For this reason the investigation has been concluded."

A Garda spokesman said it was not commenting on the status of the investigation.

Irish Independent

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