Open Letter to The Minister for Justice and Equality on the Blasphemy Referendum Wording

Dear Minister Fitzgerald,


Following the Constitutional Convention, your government has announced that there will be a referendum held during 2015 in relation to the clause on blasphemy within Article 40 of the Constitution. While the specific question to be asked on the ballot paper has yet to be announced, Atheist Ireland requests that the referendum should seek to remove this clause from Article 40.6(i) entirely.


There is a suggestion within the report from the Constitutional Convention that Article 40.6(i) should be replaced with a provision on incitement to religious hatred. However, we already have extensive legislation on incitement to hatred based on religion, race, nationality, membership of the travelling community, ethnic origin and sexual orientation. To select one of these criteria and afford it special consideration in the Constitution would again provide religion with a legal privilege that secular belief systems do not enjoy. Such discrimination is an infringement on the human rights of atheist citizens.


Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Ireland is a signatory) guarantees the right to freedom of expression, including the right to criticise the tenets and doctrines of religious faiths. In fact, the Rabat Plan of Action (2012) considers this right not only to be important to atheist citizens but also to be a prerequisite for a healthy dialogue between the religious.


We will look forward to hearing your view on the wording for the referendum and we remain willing to meet with you at your convenience, to discuss the reasons why we believe that the blasphemy clause within Article 40.6(i) should simply be removed without replacement. In the mean time, we have attached some extracts from our submission to the Constitutional Convention in this area, for your convenience.


Yours Sincerely,

JH Signature

John Hamill.

Campaign Against Irish Blasphemy Laws,

Atheist Ireland.


Blasphemy Referendum Wording





  1. Avatar
    dave kiernan December 08, 2014

    John, thank you for the excellent communication that you have sent to Minister Fitzgerald on behalf of Atheist Ireland.

    As a Green Party member since their foundation and as an activist in every National and Local Election since I must express my shame at the cowardly manner in which the Green Party TD’s and 1 Senator while in G/ovt. with Fianna Fáil supported Dermot Aherns unnecessary `Blasphemy Bill’. As ex Senator Dan Boyle has explained to me when I have broached the subject with him, `we were in G/ovt. we had to toe the line’, the same man made an exemplary speech in the Senate opposing the Blasphemy Bill and yet he voted for it to go thru, `how stupid is that’. He also informed me that the AG at the time was `very Catholic’. No wonder the voting public have reached despair with democratic politics including your own whom you would expect would have had more sense. For the record the Green Party TDs/Ministers were John Gormley, Eamon Ryan, Ciáran Cuffe, Paul Gogarty, Mary White and Trevor Sargent and the tweeting Senator Mr Dan Boyle.

  2. Avatar
    John Hamill December 08, 2014

    Thanks Dave.

    I’ve only had direct dealings with Mark Deary from the Green Party. Mark is certainly not an atheist but he was extremely diligent in considering all of the issues we presented to him and was very supportive of secularism in general. I was very impressed.


  3. Avatar
    dave kiernan December 08, 2014

    John, thank you for this excellent communication to Minister Fitzgerald on next years Referendum on the removal of `Blasphemy’ from our Constitution.

    As a member of the Irish Green Party since their foundation and as a very active canvasser in every Local and National Election since I must express my shame at the manner in which the Irish Green Party while in a power sharing Government with Fianna Fáil supported Dermot Aherns unnecessary and badly advised `Blasphemy bill’. For the record, the Green Party TD’s and Ministers (by the way they were all Ministers bar one, so just shows you what they had to lose by not supporting Fianna Fáil), John Gormley, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Ryan, Mary White, Paul Gogarty, Ciarán Cuffe and last but not least, the tweeting Senator, Dan Boyle. Senator Dan Boyle actually made a very good and impassioned speech in Seanad Éireann against Ahearns Blasphemy Bill and yet voted for it, how stupid is that !!!. When I questioned ex Senator Boyle on this decision, his reply, we were in Government we had to go along and amazingly he also said that they voted on the advice of the AG at the time who Dan Boyle said was `very Catholic’. I suppose we can count ourselves very lucky that it was only this Bill that was passed. No wonder the voting public are totally cynical about the conduct of our elected politicians.

  4. Avatar
    dave kiernan December 08, 2014

    Sorry for posting my comments twice and a third time, more or less the same, just shows you how mad I am.


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