Monday 17 June 2019

'Government must be prepared for legal challenge to the removal of blasphemy from the Constitution' - Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

THE Taoiseach has warned that the Government must be prepared for the possibility of a legal challenge to the removal of blasphemy from the Constitution – but said he hopes to have the primary legislation in place to remove the Constitutional reference by the summer recess.

The Government is to look at the possibility of strengthening the incitement to hatred legislation.

Speaking outside Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar said the next set of elections will be held in May, with the question of whether to extend voting rights on the Presidency to Irish citizens in the North.

Plebiscites will also be held in some of our cities to see if people want a directly elected mayor and also on the agenda to have the place on women in the home debated and the waiting requirement for divorce.

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was pleased the referendum had been carried, saying it was "reflective of a modern constitutional democracy and I’m pleased that the decision has been taken in a most decisive way in all 40 constitutions in the country".

He thanked everybody involved and thanked all the parties in the Dáil and all the major churches, describing the result as "a very important statement in terms of Ireland and our people."

“From an international perspective it was important that we remove the word blasphemous from our constitution,” Mr Flanagan said.

“There are many states who practices a form of repression, sadly, in our world and often Ireland has been cited as being one of the country with specific reference to blasphemy in our Constitution.”

“I believe it is important therefore that that be removed. I’m pleased that the question was put to the people and the people responded in a very positive way,” he added.

Mr Flanagan said every referendum is a challenge of direct democracy, adding that there will be people who will oppose any question put to them but said this was a most decisive victory.

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