The Constitutional Convention has voted that reference to the offence of blasphemy should not be retained in its current form in the Constitution.

By a majority of almost two to one it has recommended that it should be replaced with a general provision which would include incitement to religious hatred.

The Convention also voted by the narrowest of margins - 50% to 49% - against having any criminal law forbidding blasphemy.

Instead, it said there should be a set of detailed legislative provisions to include incitement to religious hatred.

The Government has committed to holding an Oireachtas debate on the recommendations within four months.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has welcomed the recommendation.

The ICCL appeared before the Convention yesterday and said Ireland's existing blasphemy provisions are a "domestic irrelevance and an international embarrassment".

Sinn Féin called on the Government to move swiftly to implement the Convention's recommendations.

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

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

This is the seventh gathering of the Constitutional Convention's fifty legislators and fifty other citizens, chosen to reflect the Republic's population profile.