The minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern signed a commencement order that came into effect on the 1st of January making blasphemy a crime in the south of Ireland, punishable with a fine of up to €25,000.
By Rita Ann Harrold – Dublin Socialist Youth
This isn’t the only jurisdiction an Irish person could be charged with blasphemy in though. Thanks to the European arrest warrant, if you publish something blasphemous in another European country you could be extradited there. However instead of addressing these serious issues the department of Justice is busy calling campaigners against the law names. In The Sunday Times on January 3rd 2010 A Spokesperson for the Dept. Of Justice called Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland “some crack-pot sitting in an attic somewhere sending around quotes.” This was their response to Atheist Ireland’s campaign which they started on January 1st by publishing a list of 25 blasphemous quotes on their website and hope to broaden to a campaign for a secular constitution. The quotes include utterances by The Pope, Frank Zappa and Dermot Ahern himself. The Gardaí are currently investigating whether Atheist Ireland will be punishable under the new law!
The government are using the distraction of the economic crisis to introduce this ridiculous and extremely conservative law. While they were more than happy to re-run the Lisbon referendum to get the result they wanted the Dept. Of Justice said that they don’t believe a referendum to remove a requirement to outlaw blasphemy from the constitution should be held this year “given the other serious challenges facing the country.” This shows the willingness of the government to hide under the cover of the crisis they helped cause.
The blasphemy law should be scrapped immediately. The church and state should be separated. Religious controls of schools should be ended and young people should be afforded the opportunity to receive a good publicly funded education, including sex education, free from religious bias. The capitalist state in Ireland has time and time again proven itself incapable of breaking from religious influence – why aren’t the bishops that covered up horrific child sex abuse being prosecuted and jailed for example? Young people should fight in this new decade of capitalism in enormous crisis, for a socialist future, secular, democratic and putting the needs of people and the environment first, in Ireland and internationally.