“I was only doing my duty”

According to an Irish Times report, the Irish Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, “will propose to the Cabinet a constitutional amendment deleting the constitutional prohibition on blasphemy when the children’s rights amendment comes up”. Game over, then? [Hopefully… – Ed] Although there’s still the other jurisdiction to worry about… ANYhoo… Atheist Ireland welcomes the commitment and notes an earlier Sunday Times report.

Ahern, who was criticised for increasing the fine for blasphemy to €25,000 last year, said he never regarded the provision in the new Defamation Bill as anything more than a short-term solution. “There was a lot of nonsense about that blasphemy issue and people making me out to be a complete right-winger at the time,” he said. “There was an incredibly sophisticated campaign [against me], mainly on the internet. I was only doing my duty in relation to it, because clearly it is in the constitution. The attorney general said ‘there is this absolute, mandatory thing… it is an offence, punishable by law.” A final decision on a blasphemy referendum rests with the cabinet, but if Ahern remains justice minister after this month’s reshuffle, he is likely to propose that it be added to the autumn list. The government is already committed to referendums on children’s rights and establishing a permanent court of civil appeal.

Once more then, just for fun. [We’ll never shift those beards now… – Ed]