Irish head back to the polls for blasphemy referendum

Ireland will hold a second referendum this year (Bigstock)

The Republic of Ireland will hold a second referendum this year - this time on whether to change its laws against blasphemy. Source: BBC.

It is expected that the vote will be held on the same day as the Presidential election, which is likely to take place in October and the announcement comes just weeks after the constitutional ban on abortion was overturned by a referendum.

The move, announced by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, is part of a commitment by the government to overhaul the constitution.

The law on blasphemy was written into the 1937 constitution.

Part of Article 40 states: "The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law."

In 2009, a new law made blasphemy punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros ($39,000).

British actor, comedian and writer Stephen Fry was investigated under blasphemy laws in 2015 after Irish police received a complaint over an interview with Irish national broadcaster RTÉ in which he called God stupid, selfish and "quite clearly a maniac". The Irish police dropped the investigation in 2017.

"In terms of Ireland's international reputation, this is an important step,” said Mr Flanagan.

"By removing this provision from our constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist."

It is expected that the Irish government will also approve holding a vote on whether to remove a reference in the constitution to the role of "a woman's life within the home".

FULL STORY

Ireland to hold referendum on blasphemy law (BBC)

RELATED COVERAGE

Ireland to vote on removing blasphemy as an offence (The Guardian/Reuters)

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