Just writing to let you know that I have just emailed all of the various embassies in Ireland, informing them of the new blasphemy legislation so that they might warn their citizens of the potential risk of prosecution should they insult or grossly abuse any sacredly held beliefs of any religious group while they are visiting or residing here. I also copied in as many Irish media outlets as possible as well as the Minister for Justice, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Tourism (who is from my own constituency. There has already been a huge amount of international reporting of Atheist Ireland's 25 blasphemous quotations and, hopefully, more international humiliation can be brought to bare on the Irish government.
The full text of my email is below.
All the Best
I am writing to inform you of a new piece of legislation which has been introduced in the Republic of Ireland since January 1st of this year. The legislation relates to the crime of 'Blasphemous Libel' and is enshrined in the Defamation Act 2009. The relevant section is worded thus:
36.—(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on
indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters
blasphemous matter if—
(a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive
or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any
religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial
number of the adherents of that religion, and
(b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the
matter concerned, to cause such outrage.
(3) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this
section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would
find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value
in the matter to which the offence relates.
(4) In this section “religion” does not include an organisation or
(a) the principal object of which is the making of profit, or
(b) that employs oppressive psychological manipulation—
(i) of its followers, or
(ii) for the purpose of gaining new followers.
Please be advised that this legislation will effect all persons visiting or residing in Ireland, regardless of nationality. This issue has already been raised with the European Commission by Swedish Member of Parliament, Karl Sigfrid. You may wish to advise visitors to the Republic or Ireland from your nations of the potential risk should they choose to express an opinion on any matters held sacred by the adherents of any religion.
For example, it is conceivable that a substantial number of the adherents of a religion may make a complaint about a person should they utter or publish the following statements, all of which are core tenets of major world religions, but which are also considered to be insulting or grossly abusive (blasphemous) to other world religions:
1. Jesus Christ is the son of God.
2. Allah is the one true God.
3. The Judeo-Christian God is the one true God.
As you can clearly see from the above, rather innocuous, statements; all visitors to and residents of Ireland must be extremely careful when expressing their opinions publicly. May I suggest that potential visitors to Ireland from your nations be informed of this legislation in advance of traveling, as they may be under the impression that, in coming to an EU member state, they have an automatic right to freedom of expression.
Barry Grant, Free Speech Campaigner
Blasphemy Ireland Facebook Group (Creator/Administrator)