Next in Irish Voters" Cross Hairs? A Law Banning Blasphemy

“Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values,” Mr. Flanagan said. “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.”

The second clause that may go before voters in October is in a part of the Constitution covering the family.

“In particular,” it says, “the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

Ailbhe Smyth, a veteran feminist campaigner, said that provision was a relic.

“It was very patriarchal,” she said. “The problem was, it never did women any good. It was never used by any government to ensure that women, or anyone else who stayed in the home, got any extra support or recognition. It’s redundant and obsolete and needs to be placed with all the other relics that Ireland is now getting rid of.”

Irish citizens have, in fact, found repeated occasion in recent years to revisit the social strictures embedded in their Constitution. They have voted to allow divorce and same-sex marriage and, last month, to remove an abortion ban.

“Things like abortion and same-sex marriage and blasphemy are seen as religious issues, sectarian issues, and there is now a desire to remove them from the Constitution,” said Dr. Daly, the university lecturer. “It’s about how we make statements about ourselves and express our changing identity.”

Unlike the referendums on divorce, same-sex marriage and abortion, the move to decriminalize blasphemy has met with little opposition from the Irish Catholic Church or from most religious denominations.

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