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Government running scared from blasphemy debate – Ó Snodaigh

8 July, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused the Government of running scared of a debate on blasphemy. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the guillotine imposed on the Defamation Bill today is purposely designed to avoid a debate on the blasphemy laws contained in it.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh has put forward amendments to the Bill including the removal of the offence of blasphemy and a proposal to change the composition of the Press Council and to give it more powers.

Speaking ahead of the debate in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “The Government has purposely imposed a guillotine on this Bill in order to avoid a debate on the blasphemy laws contained in it. There is no way the amendments concerning blasphemy will be reached within the one hour timeframe which has been allocated for the debate.

“I have proposed an amendment to the Bill to remove the offence of blasphemy from it. There is no place in a democratic secular society which practices free speech for a criminal offence of blasphemy. That said however, my party would urge all publications to pay special attention to the views and sensitivities of each and every religious and cultural group that makes up Irish society.

“I have also tabled a motion which calls for the Press Council to be given statutory powers and for it to increase the representation of journalists relative to media owners.” ENDS

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