The Government has approved the holding of a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

It is expected to take place in October, possibly on the same day as the Presidential election.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said: "In terms of Ireland's international reputation, this is an important step.

"By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist."

Part of Article 40.6.1 states: "The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law."

The Government said the move is part of a commitment made in the Programme for Government.