Monday 20 November 2017

Ireland’s blasphemy laws are 'embarrassing' and need to be repealed, Minister Harris

Garda investigation underway into comments made by Stephen Fry on 'The Meaning of Life'

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Ireland’s blasphemy laws are “embarrassing” and need to be repealed, Health Minister Simon Harris has said.

The Minister said actor Stephen Fry should be entitled to express his views on the existence of God without fear of a Garda investigation.

Independent.ie revealed over the weekend that the English actor is under investigation for comments made during a 2015 episode of RTÉ’s ‘The Meaning of Life’.

During the programme, presented by veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne, Mr Fry described God as "capricious", "mean-minded" and "stupid" for allowing so much suffering in the world.

Under the Defamation Act he could prosecuted and fined up to €25,000, although sources have said it is unlikely the garda probe will lead to a court hearing.

Asked for his view on the controversy today, Mr Harris said a referendum should be held to change the constitution’s stance of blasphemy.

"It’s silly. It’s a bit embarrassing. It needs to be changed. I’m very pleased that the Government wishes to see a referendum in relation to this issue. It obviously does require constitutional change," he said.

Mr Harris said the Government has committed to holding a number of referendum during its lifetime and he hopes blasphemy is one of them.

"I’d hope to see it sooner rather than later. This is a democracy. People have the right to express whatever view they do.

"Stephen Fry, regardless of your own religious views, was clearly making a number of points that he clearly felt very strongly about in his usual witty way. I think we do need a referendum," Mr Harris said

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