The chair

Dear Enda, I see that despite near-15% unemployment, you’ve having difficulty finding a chair for the constitutional convention, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring. I believe I’m an excellent candidate, not least because I’ll settle for €92K, so Brendan Howlin can rest assured I’m value for money. Now, my qualifications: I’m […]

In the beginning was the word

There was a time when book burning mattered. Once upon a time, religions enforced dictates by burning books containing the wrong opinions. To be orthodox was, literally, to hold the right opinion. And just in case that didn’t work, heretics were burned at the stake for good measure. At the end of the medieval era, […]

Free Speech or Worthy Speech?

There’s a meme going round, and I’m not sure what to make of it. One recent example forms the lead in to an article in Forth, and goes as follows: “We have to defend Lars Vilks because free speech matters but he’s a fool and his alleged would-be assassins arrested in Ireland are bumbling idiots, […]

Section 35

‘The common law offences of defamatory libel, seditious libel and obscene libel are abolished.’ That’s the entirety of section 35 of the Defamation Act 2009, signed into law by the president, Mary McAleese, last Thursday. The next two sections are devoted to blasphemy. Blasphemy, you may remember, was included in the bill at the last […]

Tús Maith

A nascent campaign to repeal the constitutional provision on blasphemy has received support from an unexpected source: the Anglican Bishop of Cork. Atheist Ireland, a group established ‘to build a rational, ethical and secular society free from superstition and supernaturalism’ has decided it will oppose the new law, signed by President McAleese today. And the […]

Any Other Business

It’s going to be an interesting week in Dáil Éireann. Desperate not to cut back on their holiday time,the government has opted instead to cut debating time, and plans to guillotine several bills into law by Friday. Among the highlights: The blasphemy clause in the Defamation bill, making it illegal to say naughty things if […]

Fixing the Bunreacht

There’s a constitutional amendment scheduled for October, to change our minds about the Lisbon treaty. This is an ideal opportunity for Dermot Ahern. He feels he must make blasphemy a crime, otherwise the people will go through the ‘costly and unwarranted diversion‘ of a referendum. But now he has an ideal chance to tack on […]

Blessed Be Mammon

Two weeks from now, Thursday 14 May, has been pencilled in as National Blasphemy Day. The idea is simple. To protest the proposal to make blasphemy a criminal offence, bloggers will ‘deliberately set out to grossly offend the religious sensitivities of as many religious believers as possible, with the clear intention of causing outrage’. The […]

Taking At Face Value

I emailed Joe Duffy today. Well, I emailed the show. Joe is off sick, Damien Reilly has been keeping the seat warm. Mick Nugent was on, representing something called Atheists Ireland. (by the way, who elected Mick to speak on behalf of all the atheists in Ireland?) Anyway, Mick was speaking about blasphemous libel, so […]

In The Name Of The Father

Dermot Ahern is going to make cussing a crime. The minister proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, creating an criminal offence if anyone ‘publishes or utters blasphemous matter’, leading to a large fine. ‘Blasphemy is anything ‘grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing […]