In 2015, I wrote a number of articles and spoke on local radio about the need to hold a referendum to repeal the article on blasphemy in our constitution. Our constitution should protect and be relevant to citizens in 2017, and not become a historical document. Unfortunately, this wasn’t done before Ireland became an international laughing stock during the Stephen Fry incident during an interview for RTE with Gay Byrne in 2017.
The current blasphemy law was introduced in 2009 and was required under the constitution as it currently stands. Regardless of ones beliefs, a blasphemy law must be viewed as an obstacle to free speech. It is a reflection of an Ireland resigned to history, and is not representative of the Ireland we currently live in. We live in a pluralist society and it is essential our constitution be updated to ensure the best interests of all of its citizens. Placing restrictive laws in the way of criticisms of beliefs are not in line with a democratic society and for that reason must be removed.
It is positive to see progressive steps towards updating our now antiquated constitution. This referendum to remove references to blasphemy would be part of a solution to make our laws more relevant. It would also be a step towards making free speech a reality, rather than rhetoric.
Listen to my interview below: