Dawkins among atheists urging Irish PM to hold blasphemy law referendum

Feb 17, 2015

Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty

By Henry McDonald

An international group of atheists and secularists including the scientists Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker has challenged the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to hold a referendum to repeal Ireland’s 21st century blasphemy law.

Ahead of an historic first meeting between a taoiseach and Irish atheists in Dublin on Tuesday, the group told Kenny that it was his “duty to protect a strong position on behalf of those intimidated in Ireland and, more importantly, on behalf of those facing execution by nations who cite Irish blasphemy laws in justification and mitigation of their behaviour.”

The blasphemy law was introduced in July 2009 by the then Fianna Fáil-led government. Breach of the law is punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£19,000).

The letter to the republic’s prime minister, signed by the Irish comedian Ed Byrne and the gay rights activist Rory O’Neill (AKA drag queen Panti), as well as leading figures in science and politics, criticised the Dublin government’s decision to renege on its promise to hold a blasphemy referendum.

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14 comments on “Dawkins among atheists urging Irish PM to hold blasphemy law referendum

  • Has the law ever been used? What did the “criminal” say, and what was the punishment.

    I think you could argue this on freedom of religion. It is blasphemy in MY religion to show exaggerated respect for false gods. The law should not interfere in my religious life, demanding I respect false gods.

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  • The law has never been used. An islamic cleric here threatened to use it against papers that might reprint the Charlie ones,and I think the public backlash in comments was quite aggressive. But,the clergy still have a strong foothold in this society.Nothing like it was in the past,but many rural areas are still somewhat controlled by their priests etc to think the way they tell them,or at least the remaining members of their congregations,which are forever dwindling thankfully. Ireland has more atheists than you might think and that number is growing at a quite an alarming rate,but the government are still scared of the catholic church and maybe they have good reason,well,for elections anyway,although it’s nothing like the states as far as spouting shite about god etc ,and if you did as a politician you would lose credibility fast.No-one wants to hear that crap from them anyway,but many people still listen to priests and when the pope says something of importance to the church it ends up on the national news,and we still have “the angelus”on before the 6 o’clock news every evening on our nation channel,which is irritating for people like me,and many others. I think there may be certain bishops etc putting pressure on the politicians without the public being aware of this.It’s a case of the cornered animal lashing out with it’s last piece of energy to defend itself and keep whatever power it has left.Recently they had a massive prayer vigil in the biggest sport stadium here all in an effort to promote the religion,and had oodles of kids going to it,bringing catholics from all over the country.This ,to me,seemed like a prime example of a panic strategy. There are hardly any new irish priests and they’re actually importing them to parishes from ,well,for example,in my old parish there’s a vietnamese priest there now,which would have been unheard of 20 yrs ago. It’s going to change big time over the next 20 yrs ,and they know it’s coming,but they won’t give up the last bastion so easily,but eventually catholicism will be in a minority in Ireland.People are too smart and well educated and we have a growing number of well read people who will keep asking questions.So,happy days,well,eventually.

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  • And how is that police investigation going into the abuse of kids by Catholic clergy going ?

    Oh silly me, did it ever start ?

    The Cardinal can still breath freely., – for now.

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  • Mr DArcy Feb 18, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    And how is that police investigation going into the abuse of kids by Catholic clergy going ?

    It seems, if they can cover-up for long enough, crimes are just forgotten in Catholic dominated countries!

    Spain drops sex abuse charges against nine priests

    But the court in the southern city of Granada, where the alleged abuse took place, ruled their accuser, now aged 25, should have brought a case within three years of turning 18.

    One priest, however, is still charged with “continued sexual abuse, with the introduction of a bodily member anally and attempt to introduce the penis”, according to the ruling dated January 26.

    The statute of limitations does not yet apply to his alleged crimes, which are deemed more serious.

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  • From Wikipedia, (apologies for the source, but acceptable in this instance):

    Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable

    This is obviously made-up bullshit that has no relevance in modern society. I could name a thousand other things people used to call crimes and demonize others for that are no longer relevant; however, what would be the point. People steeped in this ignorance are best ignored!

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