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Thursday 16 August 2018

Referendum on removal of blasphemy offence to take place in October

The Referendum is predicted to take place in October, possibly on the same day as the presidential election

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren

Kyle Ewald

The Minister for Justice and Equality announced today that the Government has officially given approval for a Referendum to amend the Constitution to provide for the removal of the offence of blasphemy.

The Minister, TD Charlie Flanagan said the drafting of the required Constitution Amendment Bill has also been approved. It is predicted that the Referendum will take place in October, possibly on the same day as Presidential elections.

“I am pleased to announce that the Government today agreed to my proposal to hold a Referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution,” Mr Flanagan said in a statement today.

The Minister said the move was an “important step” in Ireland’s international reputation: “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.”

Mr Flanagan said he hopes to initiate the Bill in the Dáil in the upcoming weeks so a Referendum Commission can be established and the Oireachtas can consider the Constitution Amendment Bill.

The decision to hold the referendum on blasphemy is part of a wider number of referenda the Government has committed to holding over the coming period.

“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,” said Mr Flanagan.

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