- 14 Jun 18
Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon, has said that the current laws on blasphemy are an anachronism in modern Ireland and should be removed from the Constitution.
It's a statement that will hopeful put Leo Varadkar under pressure to change our ridiculous blasphemy law, which made Ireland the laughing stock of the world when Stephen Fry was investigated by Garda when a member of the public made a complaint over comments he made about God and religion during an interview with Gay Byrne.
Thankfully, the Garda decided at the time that actor had no case to answer.
But now that one of Leo's own ministers us calling for the law to be scrapped, maybe the Taoiseach will feel under pressure to reexamine our outdated blasphemy law.
Minister Cannon said: “When the writer John Weldon, under the pseudonym of Brinsley McNamara, published his work ‘The Valley of the Squinting Windows’ in 1918, it caused outrage in the community in which he lived and the book was publicly burned. Weldon’s only crime was to write freely based on his experience.
“While an international study last year by the US Commission on International Religious Freedoms found that Ireland’s blasphemy laws are the least restrictive out of 71 countries across the globe, I believe that such laws are an anachronism in a modern Ireland.
“Certainly, the extraordinary situation whereby an investigation was launched into remarks made on television by Stephen Fry was rightly the focal point of much derision."
He added: “We live in a modern democracy and freedom of speech is an integral component of that.
“George Orwell said ‘if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’.
“Just as people should have that right, others also have the right to choose not to listen.
“The simple fact is that our current law on this matter is the product of another time and the time has come to put it before the people, who I am confident will relegate it to history.”