Abolition of blasphemy offence favoured by 69% of voters – poll

‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI survey reveals just 31% oppose removal of blasphemy provision

Blasphemy referendum: Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll predicts a majority  for change across all ages and regions and among men and women. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Blasphemy referendum: Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll predicts a majority for change across all ages and regions and among men and women. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

The referendum to remove the blasphemy provision is set to be carried by a landslide majority, the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll suggests.

The total Yes vote is predicted to be 69 per cent for, with 31 per cent against. There is a majority for change across all ages and regions and among men and women.

However, there was a sharp drop in the Yes vote among the oldest voters.

The large majority suggests that concerns that a lack of voter engagement, as well as coverage and debate on the issue, could have led to a weak Yes vote were unfounded.

The poll was conducted among 4,365 respondents on Friday at 160 polling stations throughout the country, and has an estimated margin of error of +/-1.5 per cent.

Youth vote

The strongest majority to remove the provision was among 18-24 year olds (82 per cent) followed by 25-24 year olds (78 per cent); 35-49 year olds (76 per cent) and 50-64 year olds (69 per cent). The oldest age group – those aged above 65 – only voted in favour of change by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

Overall, 68 per cent of men voted yes, compared to 70 per cent of women.

In Dublin, 76 per cent of voters voted yes with 73 per cent in the rest of Leinster; it was 67 per cent in Munster and 58 per cent in Connacht-Ulster. Overall, the urban voters voted yes to the tune of 72 per cent, compared to 64 per cent in rural areas.

The commitment to hold a referendum on removing the blasphemy provision was contained in the programme for government agreed between Fine Gael and a number of Independent deputies in 2016. This referendum was about the removal of the word “blasphemous” from the Constitution.

The Constitution states that citizens have the right to express freely their convictions and opinions, but there are certain limitations on that right. For example, under the Constitution the publication or the utterance of something blasphemous must be a criminal offence. Blasphemy is a criminal offence and the offence is defined in the Defamation Act of 2009.