November 2014 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Blasphemy is still a crime in Ireland, but an upcoming referendum may change that. According to the Guardian, Ireland’s coalition government has faced significant domestic pressure to abolish the law since coming to power in 2010.

In theory, violations of the blasphemy law may be punished with a 25,000 euro fine (about $31,700). But the statute is rarely enforced. The measure dates to the country’s 1937 constitution and reflects a time when the Roman Catholic Church held considerable sway over the government.

Until 2009, violations of the law were punishable by seven years in prison.

“In practice, there have been no prosecutions under the 2009 Act and the last public prosecution for blasphemy in Ireland appears to have been brought in 1855,” Aodhan O Rior­dain, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equal­ity and Arts, told parliament.