On October 26th you will be asked to remove one word – blasphemy- from the constitution. You should vote YES. No one should be subject to a criminal charge with being irreverent or speaking ill about a God.
We can remove the word ‘Blasphemy’ -and still oppose any hate speech that targets minority groups because of their religious beliefs.
But this referendum is also being held by Fine Gael as part of a pretense to show how liberal they are. In reality, nobody has been convicted of blasphemy for more than hundred years. Even the Catholic Bishops, who fought so hard against Repeal, are not opposed to the change.
After the referendum, there will still be constitutional restrictions on free speech. The same article, 40.6.1 will continue to outlaw the utterance of ‘seditious’ or ‘immoral’ speech.
This article gives the government power to ensure that the media does not ‘undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State’. The Spanish government has recently used provisions like these to jail Catalan politicians.
The liberal agenda of Fine Gael is extremely limited – and this referendum shows how they prefer to tilt at symbols rather than deal with the substance needed to separate church and state.
People Before Profit believes that we need to go much further forward than just removing one word. We need to:
- Stop the bishops from controlling 92% of our primary schools.
- Take control of our hospitals out of the hands of religious groupings.
- Give all secondary students the right not to attend classes in religious instruction.
- Scrap the Woods deal which has cost the Irish taxpayers €1.5 billion because we have indemnified the Catholic Church against child sex abuse. This money must be recovered through a special levy.
- Provide free, safe and legal abortion – with no three-day restrictions
- Introduce objective sex education in schools – not the sort delivered by religious agencies like Accord.
So, YES, let’s remove the word ‘Blasphemy’ – but let’s also really sperate church and state.