Irish Blasphemy law – a step back from the brink?
The protests and the ridicule may be having an effect.
President McAleese has decided to convene a meeting of the Council of State, under Article 26 of the Constitution, to be held at Áras an Uachtaráin on Wednesday 22nd July at 6:30pm, for the purpose of consulting with the Council regarding the Defamation Bill 2006 and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009.
To put this in perspective, this will be only the 27th time a Council of State has been convened since the Constitution of Ireland came into force at the end of 1937. The last time was in 2007.
Paragraph 1.1 of Article 26 of the Constitution states:
The President may, after consultation with the Council of State, refer any Bill to which this Article applies to the Supreme Court for a decision on the question as to whether such Bill or any specified provision or provisions of such Bill is or are repugnant to this Constitution or to any provision thereof.
Ireland may yet be saved from a return to the Dark Ages!
(Tip: Mick Nugent on Twitter)
UPDATE: (18 July) cearta.ie, the blog of Trinity College law lecturer Dr Eoin O’Dell, has an interesting analysis of the prospects. Basically, it will come down to how much influence the European Convention of Human Rights, which enshrines freedom of expression, has over the Irish Constitution, which says blasphemy should be punished. Whether the Council decides the bill is unconstitutional, or it is passed and challenged at the first attempt to get a prosecution under it, he concludes
the blasphemy provisions of the Defamation Bill will get their day in court