Restoration of blasphemous libel criticised

 

SEANAD REPORT:THE LAST thing Ireland needs is a restoration of the offence of blasphemous libel to the statute books, according to Ivana Bacik (Ind).

“I am very concerned about that. We have seen enough religious domination in this country,” she said.

John Hanafin (FF) said a debate on the proposal could be useful in highlighting the “tyranny of the liberals, in particular Irish liberals who seem to be some of the most intolerant people in the world”.

Rónán Mullen (Ind) said the introduction of the offence would seem to be quite reasonable. It was significant that the proposal drafted by the Minister required that there would be an intention to cause outrage.

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An attempt by Joe O’Toole (Ind) to get an emergency debate on the economy failed by 26 votes to 19, despite his warning that the Seanad needed to grapple with the issues that were worrying ordinary people. This was essential at a time when there was little or no trust and confidence in the political system.

It seemed, he said, as if the Government was trying to censor what was discussed in the House. If Ministers did not want to face questioning, sure the Government could send in its newly appointed economist to do so.

Alex White (Lab) said the Government seemed paralysed in terms of offering policy or leadership for the Irish people.

Dan Boyle (GP), deputy Seanad leader, said it was not a question of censorship but of having an honest debate. It had to be accepted that the way out of present difficulties depended ultimately on international recovery. To do this, there was a need to collectively devise measures that would bring about a more sustainable economy.

Ivor Callely (FF) said that ESRI reports had not always been correct.

Maria Corrigan (FF) said job losses and financial anxiety were directly linked to the onset of depression and substance abuse and increased the risk of suicide.

It was vital that supports were put in place for people’s psychological well-being and that practical support was provided for those who might find themselves close to panic following yesterday’s economic forecast.