Constitutitional Convention reviews blasphemy provision in Constitution

Saturday 02 November 2013 20.44
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Tomorrow, members will vote on whether to recommend to the Government that it hold a constitutional referendum on the controversial issue
Tomorrow, members will vote on whether to recommend to the Government that it hold a constitutional referendum on the controversial issue
A law professor told the convention that the Defamation Act 2009 clarifies the Constitutional provision
A law professor told the convention that the Defamation Act 2009 clarifies the Constitutional provision
Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland defended the ban saying it protects both peaceful co-existence and freedom of expression
Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland defended the ban saying it protects both peaceful co-existence and freedom of expression

The umbrella group representing almost all Christian churches in Ireland has said the Constitutional ban on blasphemy is largely obsolete. 

However, both the Islamic Cultural Centre and the Knights of Columbanus have argued for its retention.

All three groups were contributing to a meeting of the Constitutional Convention which is taking place this week-end in Dublin.

Up to 100 of the Convention's members gathered in Malahide, Dublin for their seventh round of weekend discussions.

Trinity College Law Professor, Professor Neville Cox told them that the Defamation Act of 2009 clarifies the Constitutional provision.

He said that the Defamation Act criminalises the publication or utterance of material which is grossly abusive or insulting to individuals on religious grounds 

In a written submission, the Knights of Columbanus argue the ban should be retained.

They said that its retention safeguards the right of believers not to suffer unwarranted offence. 

It adds that it is consistent with the Constitution's acknowledgement of Almighty God and the State's duty to respect and honour religion.

However, the Irish Inter-Church Committee's submission argues that the reference in Bunreacht na h'Éireann is largely obsolete.

The committee says it may give rise to concern because of the way such measures have been used to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland defended the ban saying it protects both peaceful co-existence and freedom of expression.

Tomorrow, members will vote on whether to recommend to the Government that it hold a constitutional referendum on the controversial issue.