Ban on blasphemy to be discussed this weekend
Constitutional Convention will also discuss submissions seeking referendum to repeal 1983 ’pro-life’ amendment.
Chairman of the convention Tom Arnold said the issue of blasphemy would be discussed today (Sat) at a meeting in Malahide, Co Dublin. and Tomorrow, it the convention would begin discussing the 500 submissions which would be categorised under “four or five manageable headings by our academic and legal experts”.
The Constitutional ban on blasphemy will be discussed at the Constitutional Convention this weekend.
The convention will also begin discussing more than 500 submissions made under the “any other business” heading, which has allowed groups and individuals to suggest issues which could require a referendum to the Constitution.
Chairman of the convention Tom Arnold said the issue of blasphemy would be discussed today at a meeting in Malahide, Co Dublin. Tomorrow, it would begin discussing the 500 submissions which would be categorised under “four or five manageable headings by our academic and legal experts”.
The convention, which comprises 100 people from across society including 33 parliamentarians, was set up by the Oireachtas last year. It is considering aspects of the Constitution to ensure it is fit for the 21st century and will report to the Government.
It will have two more meetings in February to discuss these issues.
Mr Arnold said there were a number of submissions seeking a referendum to repeal the 1983 8th amendment, which guarantees to protect and vindicate the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother.
A submission from 16 NGOs and individuals, including Amnesty International, Pavee Point and the Children’s Rights Alliance, calls on the convention to examine economic, social and cultural rights.
“These rights have never been more important to the people of Ireland, or to the policy decisions being made each day by our elected representatives,” they say.
The ban on blasphemy, to be discussed today, has been controversial since 2009 when it was specifically identified as a crime in legislation introduced by the then minister for justice Dermot Ahern. The Defamation Act, among other things, enunciated in law the Constitutional position on blasphemy.
According to Article 40.6.1 of Bunreacht na hÉireann: “The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”
Among those who will make submissions are the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Atheist Ireland, the Humanist Association of Ireland, Neville Cox, associate professor of law at Trinity College Dublin and specialist in blasphemy law, and Eoin O’Dell, associate professor of law at TCD and specialist in defamation law.
Meanwhile, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the convention’s recommendation that the way should be cleared for same-sex marriage in Ireland will come before Cabinet next week. “We will decide how to progress it,” Mr Howlin added.