Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Road Rage: French 'yellow vests' movement protests fuel prices

Read more

FOCUS

Indian Railways hiring! World's largest recruitment drive now underway

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Serpentwithfeet on reinventing gospel with complex visions of gay black love

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Cubic poop: Scientists crack mystery of wombats' square-shaped faeces

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Truth is the first casualty: The war on journalism and facts

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU elections: Green MEP Bas Eickhout on energy policy, populism and more

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU elections: EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber on Trump, Brexit and more

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

'830,000 people are dying every year because of unsafe sanitation'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Suspected gas cylinder blast kills 42 on Zimbabwe bus

Read more

Europe

Ireland votes to overturn ban on blasphemy

© Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters | Canvassers wear t-shirts to promote a yes vote ahead of the referendum on blasphemy law in Dublin, Ireland, on October 18, 2018.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-10-28

Ireland has voted to lift a rarely enforced constitutional ban on blasphemy in the latest secular reform for the once staunchly Catholic country, referendum results showed on Saturday.

The ban was overturned with 65 percent of voters in favour, following recent votes to allow abortion and same-sex marriage.

“It has always been my view that there is no room for a provision such as this in our constitution. Ireland is rightly proud of our reputation as a modern, liberal society,” Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said.

The referendum coincided with a presidential election which saw incumbent Michael D. Higgins win a landslide second term securing a 56-percent vote share in a race of six candidates.

The 1937 blasphemy provision makes “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion” punishable by up to 25,000 euros ($28,500).

>> Read more: Blasphemy, the referendum issue in newly secular Ireland

In practice the legislation is largely obsolete and there have been no successful prosecutions since the Irish state was established.

But it was heavily criticised in 2015 when police were forced to investigate British TV personality Stephen Fry for branding God “stupid” during an interview.

Politicians had long made it known that they intended to remove the provision and there have been claims the law gives support to more oppressive regimes on the global stage.

“The constitutional provision and Irish law on blasphemy gives comfort to countries where they have extremely draconian laws which are used to harass, to intimidate, to imprison, to subject people to violence,” Amnesty Ireland director Colm O’Gorman told AFP in an interview in the run-up to the referendum.

‘President for all the people’

When the results were announced on Saturday night only a handful of spectators were there to witness it a stark contrast to May’s referendum, which saw vibrant celebrations when the majority backed a campaign to end a ban on abortion.

Many saw that poll, which enjoyed a 64 per cent turnout, as an indication of the Catholic Church’s waning grip on Irish life.

Friday’s vote saw a turnout of just 44 per cent.

The re-election of Higgins, a 77-year-old former parliamentary politician, academic and poet, was presented as a foregone conclusion for much of the campaign.

Higgins told a crowd gathered at Dublin Castle for the announcement: “I will be a president for all the people for those who voted for me and those who did not”.

Among his five challengers, businessman Peter Casey had a surprise surge in popularity, securing 23 percent of the vote.

Casey courted controversy in his campaign for comments over the Irish traveller community, drawing comparisons in the Irish media to US President Donald Trump.

(AFP)

Date created : 2018-10-28

  • IRELAND

    Blasphemy, the referendum issue in newly secular Ireland

    Read more

  • IRELAND

    In Ireland, Pope Francis expresses 'shame' and meets abuse victims

    Read more

  • IRELAND

    Ireland ends abortion ban as 'quiet revolution' transforms country

    Read more

COMMENT(S)