Fine Gael TD for Kildare South, Martin Heydon, is encouraging people in Kildare South to vote yes to remove the crime of blasphemy from our Constitution on Friday 26th October.
“Fine Gael’s 2016 General Election Manifesto proposed a package of constitutional reforms and we are following through on that commitment. This includes holding a referendum proposing to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution. The referendum is taking place on Friday, 26th October, the same day as the Presidential Election.
“Ireland is a modern democratic republic that places high value on free speech. As such the crime of blasphemy has no place in our Constitution and that’s why I am calling on voters to remove it.
“Freedom of belief and expression are important values in a democratic society. As my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality has said, criminalising blasphemy is not consistent with these values.
“Ireland is a country that respects religious diversity and religious freedom at home and around the world. We speak out when other countries sentence ‘blasphemers’ to death, violent punishment or imprisonment.
“However our own outdated law here means a person could be fined up to €25,000 if they say or publish something intending to cause outrage, or that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion.
“This dates back to 1937 when blasphemy was included as a crime in our Constitution. It was defined in law in 2009 by then Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, who said at the time he felt he had to put it on the statue books due to it being in the Constitution. However given the choice at that time he said he would have preferred a referendum to remove blasphemy from the Constitution. We now have that chance.
“When Ireland speaks out on human rights issues around the world, our voice will be stronger if we remove blasphemy from our own Constitution. Blasphemy has no place in the modern Constitution of any democratic society.
“On Friday voters going to the polls in County Kildare will be presented with two ballot papers; one on the Presidency and one for the Blasphemy referendum.
“Don’t assume others will get this referendum proposal passed for you. Recent polls show there is no room for complacency and every vote will be important.
“Have your voice heard on October 26th and vote ‘Yes’ to remove blasphemy from our Constitution,” Deputy Heydon concluded.