Update on the campaign against the Irish blasphemy law

This is an update on the ongoing work that we have been doing in the campaign against the Irish blasphemy law, which is still on the Irish statute books.

Our campaign against this law took a different and less confrontational focus when the previous Justice Minister accepted that the law should be repealed, and again when the new Government was elected and has outlined the process by which it intends to address the issue, i.e. through a Constitutional Convention which should be established next year to address this and other Constitutional issues.

Because of these developments, and also because Atheist Ireland was at the time a new organisation and we did not want to be defined solely by our opposition to the blasphemy law, we have been focusing publicly on other issues including the need for a secular education system. However, in the background, we have been actively continuing the campaign against the blasphemy law.

  • We have raised it with every political party and candidate in the last General Election, and with the Programme for Government negotiating teams.
  • We have raised it in a submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on Irelands human rights record with regard to secular issues.
  • We have had it incorporated into a joint submission made to the UNUPR by several Irish human rights advocacy groups.
  • We have highlighted it at the World Atheist Convention that we held in Dublin in June.
  • We have incorporated it into the Dublin Declaration on Secularism adopted by the World Atheist convention.
  • We are including it in a submission to the Council of Europe under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
  • We have raised the blasphemy law and other secular issues in a meeting with the Department of the Taoiseach about our overall political agenda.
  • We are preparing a submission specifically on the blasphemy law for the new Government’s Constitutional Convention.
  • Professor David Nash of Oxford Brookes University, who assisted in having the UK blasphemy law repealed, has been approved for research funding to help us prepare this submission and to give evidence to the Convention.
  • We have raised the issue at the human rights conference in Warsaw of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

We will be raising it and other secular issues in a series of public meetings around Ireland in the coming months.
If you would like to help with any of this you are most welcome to do so. You are also welcome to help with other parts of our campaign for an ethical secular Ireland. In the past year, as well as campaigning against the blasphemy law:

  • We have written to all candidates and parties in the General Election asking their views on six secular policy issues, and published the results to enable secular voters to take this into account when voting.
  • We have published secular analyses of the manifestos of each political party.
  • We have made a submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on Ireland’s human rights record with regard to secular issues.
  • We have contributed to a joint submission made by several Irish human rights advocacy groups.
  • We ran a campaign to be honest about religion in the census.
  • We met in Brussels with the Presidents of the European Parliament, Commission and Council.
  • We made submissions written and oral to the Department of Education’s Forum on patronage in the Primary Sector.
  • We met with the Taoiseach’s office to arrange ongoing dialogue with Government Departments on secular issues.
  • We participated in the OSCE human rights conference in Warsaw, raising Constitutional and legal issues about secularism in Ireland and internationally.
  • We helped to restructure and launch Atheist Alliance International and hosted a World Atheist Convention in Dublin with high profile speakers from around the globe.
  • We have also held social events and taken part in media interviews and public debates on atheism, reason and secularism.

Please get involved. You can find more information here on how to Join Atheist Ireland and help us to build an ethical and secular Ireland free of blasphemy laws and with separation of church and state.

Michael Nugent


  1. Avatar
    Mairin de Burca December 12, 2011

    Would it be possible to email members about items such as lectures and meetings of interest to athiests. I have missed some I would have liked to have attended because I didn’t know they were on.

    • Avatar
      nozzferrahhtoo December 12, 2011

      Certainly something we need to work on. In the meantime the Announcements and Meetings part of the Forum is the go to place to keep an eye on that sort of thing. Also join the Atheist Ireland Facebook page where Mr. Nugent posts all the announcements of things like this which go straight to your email. In the mean time we are working on improving the social side of the site and this would be part of the package we want to implement.