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Taoiseach challenged on Blasphemy Referendum – Adams

9 May, 2017 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today urged the Taoiseach to hold the long promised referendum on removing the blasphemy clause from the constitution and allow “citizens the opportunity to say clearly down with that sort of thing and allow Stephen Fry or anyone else to express an opinion without threat of criminal proceedings”.

Teachta Adams described the Taoiseach’s response, in which he gave no commitment on a timeframe for holding a referendum as “disappointing and inadequate”.

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“In the programme for Government, there is a commitment to holding a number of constitutional referenda, including on Article 40.6.1, on the offence of blasphemy. This arises from the good work of the Constitutional Convention.

“In 2015, the English actor Stephen Fry gave an interview to Gay Byrne on the issue of faith and God. As a result of a single complaint, we had the spectacle of Mr Fry being investigated by the Gardaí on a criminal charge of blasphemy. That investigation is not going ahead and I welcome that.

“However, this story was widely reported in the international media with appropriate mocking commentary and some disbelief. Blasphemy should have no place in the constitution.

“Minister Coveney indicated several days ago that the Government might hold a ‘referendum day’ next year to deal with the repeal of the eighth amendment and the extension of the vote to citizens outside the state.

“When I asked the Taoiseach if he would give a commitment to include the removal of blasphemy from the Constitution, he made excuses about holding several referenda on the same time and refused to provide a time frame for any of the referendum.

“This is very disappointing and inadequate response which reflects the Government’s failure to deal expeditiously with important issues, some of which were agreed by the Constitutional Convention several years ago.” 

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