Ireland votes to remove blasphemy from the Constitution.
All 40 consituencies have voted yes by approximately 65% to 35% to remove the word “blasphemous” from article 40.6.1 of the Constitution
The Constitution does not itself define blasphemy. The legal definition of blasphemy is contained in the Defamation Act 2009.
That Act says that a person publishes or utters something blasphemous if they—
- publish or say something that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and—
- intend to cause that outrage.
Under the 2009 Act, where a person is accused of the criminal offence of publishing or saying something blasphemous, it is a defence if they can prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they published or said.
If convicted of this offence, a person may be fined up to €25,000. There is no prison sentence for this offence.
What will change following the outcome of the Referendum
Article 40.6.1 of the Constitution says:
The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:–
The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.
The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law
Following the outcome of the Referendum, the word blasphemous will now be removed.