Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

MichaelNugent
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Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by MichaelNugent » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:10 pm

Atheist Ireland welcomes the statement from Dermot Ahern, the Irish Justice Minister, that he is proposing a referendum this Autumn to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution, along with two other referendums that the government is already committed to.

The Minister has told the Sunday Times that “I was only doing my duty” in bringing in the new blasphemy law, and that “there was an incredibly sophisticated campaign [against me], mainly on the internet.” Atheist Ireland thanks everyone who has helped to make the campaign against this new law as effective as it has been to date.

It is now important we maintain the pressure on this issue to ensure that the referendum happens as proposed and, more importantly, that it is won.

We reiterate our position that this law is both silly and dangerous: silly because it is introducing medieval canon law offence into a modern plularist republic; and dangerous because it incentives religious outrage and because its wording has already been adopted by Islamic States as part of their campaign to make blasphemy a crime internationally.

The following is the text of the article in today’s Sunday Times:

Ahern proposes a referendum on scrapping blasphemy law

Dermot Ahern, the justice minister, is proposing that a vote to remove the criminal offence of blasphemy be held as part of a planned series of referendums this autumn, writes Stephen O’Brien.

Ahern, who was criticised for increasing the fine for blasphemy to €25,000 last year, said he never regarded the provision in the new Defamation Bill as anything more than a short-term solution.

“There was a lot of nonsense about that blasphemy issue and people making me out to be a complete right-winger at the time,” he said. “There was an incredibly sophisticated campaign [against me], mainly on the internet. I was only doing my duty in relation to it, because clearly it is in the constitution. The attorney general said ‘there is this absolute, mandatory thing... it is an offence, punishable by law.”

A final decision on a blasphemy referendum rests with the cabinet, but if Ahern remains justice minister after this month’s reshuffle, he is likely to propose that it be added to the autumn list. The government is already committed to referendums on children’s rights and establishing a permanent court of civil appeal.

The plebiscites are expected to take place in October, on the same day as the a vote for a new directly elected mayor of Dublin, and three Dail by-elections in Donegal South-West, Dublin South and Waterford.

“I said [last year] that I didn’t want a wasteful standalone referendum on blasphemy in the middle of an economic crisis,” said Ahern. “My preference was to reform [the blasphemy provision] in the short term and to have a referendum in the medium term when it could be bundled with a number of others.”

A defamation bill was already in preparation when Ahern became justice minister in May 2008.

Ahern then said he had three options: to abandon the bill; to hold a single-issue referendum to remove the constitutional reference to blasphemy; or to update the references in the 1961 Defamation Act.

Opting for reform, he said he had removed the seven-year jail sentence from the old legislation.
Last edited by MichaelNugent on Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by lostexpectation » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:55 pm

surprising

another hint the dail will dissolve next week and this will never happen


if it goes ahead theres going to be a strange crossover of the religious right between this and childrens referendum. i'd even be a little worried about having them on the same day. the childrens ref is more important, of course the general feeling i gather would be that ppl here would prefer to have hte blasphemy ref onlong with ref on judges and presidential oaths etc.
Last edited by lostexpectation on Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by ctr » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:22 pm

That is great news..

Good work AI, Michael and the Committee. However the hard work now begins.

I suggest we, AI, should really write to the other Political Parties to get them to support this referendum should the Government fall. (it was not listed in FG's proposed Referendums) I believe this support would be forthcoming.

Like the Children's Referendum it needs to be removed from a Party Political arena.
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lostexpectation
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by lostexpectation » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:32 pm

who's is fine gael constitutional reform person apart from enda himself labour is brenadan howlin i think.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by ctr » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:56 pm

Yes its Brendan, As a Labour Party member I will write to him in a personal capacity.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by Dev » Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:35 pm

I can't help but feel that this is just a waste of money and time. More so than the law being ethically unjust. Don't get me wrong, I want this law repealed as much as anyone else.

AI has spent considerable resources fighting this.
A referendum will cost money.

All for something that should never have happened in the first place. The only good that has come out of this is that Ai has gotten some publicity and we have shown that left unchecked silly things will happen in the name of religion.

On a side note. Kudos to Dermot Ahern to reverse his position. This somewhat redeems him in my eyes.

Out of curiosity Michael, you have referred to the this law as an affront to free speech but we don't have free speech in Ireland. There are still things that can't be said outside of hate speech and libel, I think the constitution refers to speech as being subject to common taste. Hence why so many movies and books were banned in Ireland. Will AI be making this a goal in its agenda or is it something AI simply passively supports?

I feel this is on topic because free speech and blasphemy go hand in hand and by having a strong free speech amendment like America we can ensure this isn't brought in again in the future wasting more money.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by aZerogodist » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:02 pm

Dev wrote:A referendum will cost money.
As there will be a referendum on that day allready, I would't think that the Blasphemy Law referendum would add much to the cost.
Dev wrote:This somewhat redeems him in my eyes.
Mine too.

I just wonder what group/groups will come out against the referendum passing.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by ctr » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:53 pm

LoL with luck the loons thereby making our jobs easier.
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by dugges » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:36 pm

Well, this is indeed good tidings :)
Ahern wrote:“There was a lot of nonsense about that blasphemy issue and people making me out to be a complete right-winger at the time,” he said. “There was an incredibly sophisticated campaign [.....]
Awwwww schuks
Ahern wrote:[....][against me], mainly on the internet.
Well, you did compare yourself to the baby Jesus - you diddy

aZerogodist wrote:I just wonder what group/groups will come out against the referendum passing.
Groups?? Individuals I would think - The Navan Fairytale defence league will be writing to the Indo no doubt
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Dev
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Re: Ahern proposes Autumn referendum on blasphemy

Post by Dev » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:23 am

To be honest, fighting for massive legal (it is an amendment) changes like this usually takes a long time. It has only been three and half months from the introduction of the bill till such an announcement.

I would have expected AI to continue its campaign for years. A real testament to all you guys involved.

Was it ever discussed in AI meetings as to how long you expected this to drag on? I know it is a case of "as long as it takes" but surely some educated guess based on other similar campaigns was referenced somewhere.
aZerogodist wrote: I just wonder what group/groups will come out against the referendum passing.
Interesting question.
The Muslim community and all those who supported its reintroduction (no one) and as dugges said the odd nutter.

Even the CCL seemed indifferent to the whole fiasco then again they have enough to deal with at the moment with the abuses and simply can't afford anymore bad PR in Ireland.
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