“in relation to matters held sacred by any religion..”

Future Taoiseach spotted this first and noted the suggested amendment by Labour Justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte. The Irish Times reports that the Irish government’s Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.” And

“Blasphemous matter” is defined as matter “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”

It’s in keeping with the recent resolution by the UN Human Rights Council. But it’s not in keeping with the stated opposition to that resolution by the EU representative. Perhaps they’ll bring back the Committee on Evil Literature while they’re at it. Or re-rename the Irish Film Classification Office. Still, those touched by His Noodly Appendage will be pleased.. Bloody supernaturalists.. Adds Clockwork Chartophylax and, separately, Irish Eagle have some thoughts. And Carol Coulter in today’s Irish Times

Explaining Ireland’s vote at the December UN meeting, in response to a question from Green TD Ciarán Cuffe in the Dáil last month, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” He went on to distinguish between this and discrimination based on religious belief and incitement to hatred, pointing out that Ireland supported a UN resolution on “Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.” Has our policy on the defamation of religion changed since last December and, if so, why?

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