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Sinn Féin to support removal of blasphemy clause, secularisation – Reilly

1 November, 2013

Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has indicated that the party delegates to the Constitutional Convention will be supporting the proposal to remove the blasphemy clause from the 1937 Constitution, and will also support the associated proposal to secularise the Constitution.

Senator Reilly was speaking ahead of the November sitting of the Convention meeting taking place in Malahide this weekend.

Senator Reilly said:

“Religious defamation laws are not the right way to achieve tolerance, mutual respect and equality.  Blasphemy is not a valid offence in public law, and should not be a criminal offence in a democratic society that respects diversity.

“Rather, religious groups and non-believers alike must be adequately protected from incitement to hatred, discrimination on the grounds of religion must be legally prohibited, and such protections of religious minorities’ right to equality should be constitutionally entrenched in a Bill of Rights and in any All-Ireland Charter of Rights.

“In 2011 the UN Human Rights Committee published their expert opinion that blasphemy laws are not compatible with human rights and are inconsistent with Ireland’s international human rights obligations as party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“Sinn Féin will be voting for the removal of the blasphemy clause from the 1937 Constitution. This position is in line with that of The Law Reform Commission, the Constitutional Review Group and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.

“In addition, we strongly believe that any constitution that aims to be fully inclusive of all sections of society must be a secular constitution.  Sinn Féin will therefore also be supporting the proposal to secularise the 1937 Constitution.”

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