Ireland’s new blasphemy law: blame the recession

Irish Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern turns up in the Irish Times this morning, attempting to reassure voters that creating an offence of ‘blasphemous libel’ is an essentially benign move, and pointing out that, constitutionally, blasphemy is supposed to be a punishable offence:

‘My intention is to remove the possibility of prison sentences and private prosecutions for blasphemy, currently provided in Irish law.’

So far, so good. But Ahern continues:

‘The only credible alternative to this move is a blasphemy referendum, which I consider, in the current circumstances, a costly and unwarranted diversion.’

So essentially, this unwanted, unneeded and unpopular law is being pushed through because it would be too much trouble and expense to have a referendum.

Meanwhile, in the same paper, columnist John Waters, himself a deeply religious man, denounces Ahern’s proposal in a thoughtful piece, where he worries that legislating against blasphemy could chill jokes and humour:

‘It is true that we now live in a culture where what passes for humour is often elevated beyond merit, but the right to speak and joke freely remains as precious as the right to religious freedom. In truth, because both relate to the fundamental impulses of humanity, they are almost co-terminous.’

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  1. Posted 01May09 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    To paraphrase John Waters: the right to believe is shit is inseperable from the right to take the piss.

  2. Posted 01May09 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    (but spelt correctly, obviously)

  3. Posted 01May09 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Will this cover all religions in Ireland? What will become of Father Ted?

  4. Posted 11May09 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    check out the article here on the new Blasphemy move at Socialism or Barbarism!

  5. Posted 13May09 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if I were to blaspheme, balls out in all directions, only to claim that God told me to do it, with some mad scribblings I could later claim the big fella divined through my mortal hand, could I beat the prosecution with their own stick?

    One man’s accusation of blasphemy could surely be made another’s counter accusation of blasphemy, no?