Sunday 17 June 2018

Approval given for referendum on removal of blasphemy offence

The Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan was given approval by the Cabinet to hold the referendum in October.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Cate McCurry, Press Association Ireland

A referendum on the removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution could be held on the same day as the presidential election, the Minister for Justice has said.

Charlie Flanagan was given approval by the Cabinet to hold the referendum in October.

It could be held on the same day as an election for the office of president, and alongside another referendum to remove the part of the Constitution that refers to the woman’s place in the home.

In terms of Ireland’s international reputation, this is an important step Charlie Flanagan

Known as the “woman in the home” clause, it has been criticised for its sexist language by Irish politicians and activists.

Mr Flanagan said: “In terms of Ireland’s international reputation, this is an important step.

“Regrettably, there are some countries in the world where blasphemy is an offence, the punishment of which is being put to death.

“In these countries, such laws are not an anachronism but a very real threat to the lives of those who do not share the views of those enforcing the laws.

“Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values. By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”

The decision to hold the referendum around the issue of blasphemy is part of the Programme for Government commitment and is part of a wider number of referenda which the Government has committed to holding.

Press Association

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