Ireland reneges on blasphemy promise

Ireland reneges on blasphemy promise

Atheist Ireland’s Michael Nugent, above, says the ruling coalition has reneged on promise from 2011 to put controversial legislation to general vote.

According to the Guardian, Irish, atheists and secularists have accused their government of breaking a promise to call a referendum over the Republic’s controversial blasphemy laws in the lifetime of the current coalition.

Atheist Ireland expressed disappointment that the government had quietly dropped plans for a plebiscite to rid the country of the legislation, which secularists have argued are incompatible with modern Ireland.

Last year, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had promised a referendum on the blasphemy law to coincide with two other votes on gay marriage equality and lowering the age for when a citizen can become president of the state.

Last December, however, the government confirmed that referenda will be held in the spring on gay marriage and the age of a presidential candidate, but excluded a national vote on blasphemy.

Michael Nugent, a co-founder of Atheist Ireland and a Dublin-based comedy writer, said:

If they refuse to hold it at all during the term of office of the government – as an unnamed government spokesperson hinted at earlier in December – then yes that is a betrayal.


Nugent pointed out that both ruling parties pledged before the 2011 general election to reform the blasphemy law with Labour explicitly vowing to take the word out of the Irish constitution.

He said the back-tracking on the issue would:

Continue to undermine confidence in the constitution and the legislature. It will continue the ‘nod and wink’ politics of the recent past, where we are expected to believe that (politicians’) words do not mean what they say, and to not take seriously what is in our constitution.

The author of a comic opera co-written with Father Ted writer Arthur Matthews added:

Ireland’s blasphemy law will continue to give encouragement to Islamic states at the UN, as they point to a modern western democracy passing a new blasphemy law in the 21st century when defending their own blasphemy and apostasy laws.

The Republic’s blasphemy law was only introduced in July 2009 by the then Fianna Fáil-led government. Breach of the law is punishable with a fine of up to €25,000.

The law defines blasphemy as:

Publishing or uttering 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, with some defences permitted.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake

7 responses to “Ireland reneges on blasphemy promise”

  1. tom rogers says:

    What a dreadful thing to benight their constituents. I am loathe to admit, but it seems we’re going backwards; rather than looking to better ourselves, we allow the worst impulses of authoritarian, rigidly social conservatives with overlarge megaphones funded by fellow ideologues.

    Look to how the Texas State School Board has inserted blatantly Christian right assertions portrayed as fact into history textbooks for students too young to parse the nonsense for themselves. Tragic and despicable.

  2. Newspaniard says:

    This is the same country that elects terrorists to represent them.

  3. TrickyDicky says:

    To misquote George Orwell –

    “The people looked from priest to politician, and from politician to priest, and from priest to politician again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

  4. Mark Mark says:

    Better stop these guys and quick…soon they will be using this law to start sizing peoples property, wealth, and possessions as the catlick church did in Europe during the middle ages when they went around accusing and burning people as witches.

  5. L.Long says:

    WOW!!! I’m shocked and surprised because a bunch of politicians living in a near theocracy are shown to be LIARS4Jesus!!!!!
    Do you know how to tell which politicians are incompetent for the job???
    They asked to be voted in to office!!! A truly honest and knowledgeable person would know the job is impossible and not want anything to do with it!!!! So they started off incompetent and devolve into dishonest.

  6. Robster says:

    Is there a law that criminalises disrespect to leprechauns? If not, there’s a big pile of discrimination that needs urgent attention.The easter Bunny needs help and Santa too.

  7. John says:


    “This is the same country that elects terrorists to represent them.”

    Really? And what country are you referring to, it wouldn’t be the UK by any chance would it?