Minister Flanagan announces Government approval for the holding of a Referendum on the removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution


12 June 2018


The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced that the Government has today given approval for the holding of a Referendum to amend the Constitution to provide for the removal of the offence of blasphemy, and for the drafting of the required Constitution Amendment Bill.  It is envisaged that the Referendum will take place in October, possibly on the same day as an election for the office of President.


The Minister said: “I am pleased to announce that the Government today agreed to my proposal to hold a Referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.”


“In terms of Ireland’s international reputation, this is an important step.  Regrettably, there are some countries in the world where blasphemy is an offence, the punishment of which is being put to death.  In these countries, such laws are not an anachronism but a very real threat to the lives of those who do not share the views of those enforcing the laws.  Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values.  By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”


The decision to hold the referendum around the issue of blasphemy fulfils a Programme for Government commitment and is part of a wider number of referenda which the Government has committed to holding over the coming period. The Minister hopes to initiate the Bill in the Dáil in the coming weeks so that a Referendum Commission can be established and the Constitution Amendment Bill can be considered by the Oireachtas.