Atheist Ireland welcomes the statement from Dermot Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, that he is proposing a referendum this Autumn to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution, along with two other referendums that the government is already committed to.
On January 1st, the day that the law became operational, Atheist Ireland had published 25 blasphemous statements on the internet to challenge it.
The Justice Minister has now told the Sunday Times that he was only doing his duty in bringing in the new blasphemy law, and that the Attorney General had advised him that it was mandatory. He added that “there was an incredibly sophisticated campaign [against me], mainly on the internet.”
Atheist Ireland would like to thank everybody who has helped to make this campaign so effective so far. We look forward to the Autumn referendum as part of our overall campaign for an ethical, secular Ireland. We ask all reasonable citizens to work together to ensure that the referendum is won.
We reiterate that this law is both silly and dangerous: silly because it is introducing medieval canon law offence into a modern plularist republic; and dangerous because it incentives religious outrage and because its wording has already been adopted by Islamic States as part of their campaign to make blasphemy a crime internationally.
The blasphemy reference is one of several anachronisms in our Constitution that will ultimately need to be changed. Other examples are the religious oaths that prevent atheists from becoming President, or a Judge, or a member of the Council of State.