Ireland’s Blasphemy Law Repealed

You are probably aware of the Blasphemy law in the Republic of Ireland. It was enacted in 2009, effective at the start of 2010. There haven’t been any prosecutions, and the last time we wrote about it was more than two years ago — see Update on Ireland’s Blasphemy Law.

We weren’t expecting it, but we just discovered this headline in The Guardian, published in London: Ireland votes to oust ‘medieval’ blasphemy law . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Campaigners in Ireland celebrated the end of a “medieval” ban on blasphemy on Saturday, after voters overwhelmingly backed removing the offence from the constitution in a referendum. The referendum saw 64.85% vote yes to remove the prohibition on blasphemy, with 35.15% in favour of retaining it. A total of 951,650 people voted for the change, with 515,808 opposing the move.

There will undoubtedly be an outcry from theocratic creationists. Maybe they’ll blame it on Darwin. Then The Guardian says:

Until recently, Ireland was deeply conservative, dominated by the Catholic church, but the country has legalised gay marriage and abortion in popular votes, and is now led by an openly gay taoiseach. [openly gay what?]

That’s a new word for us. Apparently it’s the prime minister, chief executive and head of government of Ireland — see Taoiseach. Back to The Guardian, which tells us:

Reflecting the speed of changes in Ireland, the strongest support for ending the ban came from younger voters, exit polls suggested. Four in five voters under 35 backed the change, according to the Irish Times, while over-65s only approved it by a narrow margin, with 52% in favour and 48% against.

There’s more in the news story, but that’s the general idea. And so, dear reader, if you live in Ireland, or you’re planning to visit, it’s once again safe to talk about evolution, the Solar System, and the spherical shape of the Earth.

Now we await the inevitable reaction from the usual creationist websites. That should be fun, so stay tuned to this blog!

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8 responses to “Ireland’s Blasphemy Law Repealed

  1. the end of a “medieval” ban on blasphemy on Saturday
    How many misread this, as I did, to be about a law permitting blasphemy on Sunday through Friday?

  2. ‘Taoiseach’ is the Irish equivalent of ‘Prime Minister’. (By the way, it’s pronounced something like ‘tea-sack’ Make of that what you will.)

  3. Whenever this Dutchman thinks of blasphemy laws he thinks of the famous, scandalous and last blasphemy process in The Netherlands:

  4. It’s cheering to see the Irish have more important things on their mind than fretting over non-existent crimes like “blasphemy.” Only the fundy Christians and Muslims get worked up about it. Their god doesn’t seem bothered enough to lift an immaterial finger, except maybe to “flip the bird” to his servile followers.

    God must be one of those ironic 90’s slacker types; or maybe just permanently stoned and out of it. Or is that blasphemous?

  5. Cymro yn Iwerddon

    Actually, the referendum only repealed the constitutional ban on blasphemy, meaning the parliament can decide the remove the law on blasphemy if it so decides. Thus the law itself is still in place and there are no announced plans to repeal it. Also Taoiseach is not pronounced anything like tea-sack. The final ‘ch’ is as in Scottish ‘loch’ (I’ll show that as ‘kh’), so the pronunciation is something like ‘tee-shukh’. I see no reason why rationalists on this site should mock words or pronunciations of other languages, do you?

  6. in the same week that Ireland repealed its blasphemy laws, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Austria’s law against disparagement of religion was not a restriction of human rights, because “Presenting objects of religious worship in a provocative way capable of hurting the feelings of believers could be conceived as a malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance.” More at

  7. Cymro yn Iwerddon

    @Paul Braterman Please see my previous post; Ireland has not repealed its blasphemy laws, only the constitutional requirement that there be a blasphemy law. We hope (perhaps even expect) that the laws will be repealed soon, but there’s no announcement yet that the law will be changed.

  8. Indeed, and the same is true of Scotland’s blasphemy law. But there seems little chance that it will form the basis of a prosecution, whereas ECHR was ruling in favour of the conviction in a real case