Wording of law to criminalise blasphemy a farce, says Norris


SEANAD REPORT:DAVID NORRIS (Ind) said he was astonished that the Minister for Justice told the Dáil that legislation to criminalise blasphemy had been drawn up to make it virtually impossible to get a successful prosecution out of it. That was a very peculiar way to be drafting law.

“It is a complete farce, a nonsense and an insult to the intelligence of the Irish people.”

Mr Norris said he could not give a definition of blasphemy, but he could provide a description of it. “It’s one that we all heard and that was printed in The Irish Times . . . when that remarkable man, Mr O’Brien, a former Fianna Fáil mayor of Clonmel, said: ‘They raped me, they buggered me, they beat the sh**e out of me and the next day put the host in my mouth.’ That shows the most extraordinary disregard for God and man. That’s blasphemy! The laws were there, but they did nothing to save that unfortunate child. Let’s not have a pretence, let’s not have a farce; let’s have real and properly drafted legislation and forget all this nonsense about blasphemy.”

The Bill providing an interim scheme to stabilise the health insurance market pending the development of a longer-term solution passed second stage. Fine Gael opposed it while two Labour members supported it.

Minister of State for Health John Moloney said the main goals of the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008 were to affirm that the Health Insurance Acts ensured access to health insurance cover was available to all consumers “ without differentiation made in respect of age and health status”. Leas Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke (FG) said €l50 million in levies would be taken from hard-pressed people under 50, driving them out of the health insurance market. Those on his side of the House would find it difficult to vote for such a measure.

Eugene Regan (FG) said the Government should rethink plans to introduce a property tax on primary residences and should learn from the past.

“The experience was not pleasant. The residential property tax did not succeed. It was neither equitable nor successful and it was difficult to administer.”

The governor of the Central Bank had attempted to manipulate the recent elections by comments he made on polling day, which was nothing short of a disgrace, Liam Twomey (FG) said.

He had talked about green shoots in the economy “when he clearly knows everything that we know at this moment in time about the regression of our economy, rising unemployment, public finances in a mess”.