Constitutional Offences (Blasphemy) Bill 2010


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CONSTITUTIONAL OFFENCES (BLASPHEMY)
BILL 2010
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ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
Section

1.
Short title and commencement.
2.
Definitions.
3.
Repeal and consequential provisions.
4.
Blasphemy.

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Acts Referred To
2009, No. 31
1989, No. 19
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CONSTITUTIONAL OFFENCES (BLASPHEMY)
BILL 2010
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BILL
entitled
AN ACT TO AMEND AND CLARIFY THE LAW ON THE PUBLICATION OR UTTERANCE OF BLASPHEMOUS MATTER.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:
Short title and commencement..
1. — (1) This Act may be cited as the Constitutional Offences (Blasphemy) Act 2010.
(2) This Act shall come into operation immediately on passing.
Definitions..
2. — In this Act —
“Act of 1989” means the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act 1989;
“Act of 2009” means the Defamation Act 2009;
“The offence of blasphemy” means the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter within the meaning of Article 40.6.1°.i of the Constitution insofar as it relates to blasphemous matter.
Repeal and consequential provisions..
3. — (1) Sections 36 and 37 of the Act of 2009 are hereby repealed.
(2) Any person having been convicted of an offence under Section 36 of the Act of 2009 before the coming into effect of this Act shall be deemed to have successfully appealed against their conviction.
(3) The prosecution for an alleged offence under Section 36 of the Act of 2009 which is pending at the time of the coming into effect of this Act shall be abandoned.
(4) Any goods seized under Section 37 of the Act of 2009 shall, if practicable to do so, be returned to the person from whom they were seized and compensation paid equivalent to the value of any goods lost or damaged as a result of the said seizure.
(5) Compensation paid under Sub-section (4) shall not preclude the person from whom the goods were seized from claiming damages for loss of trade.
Blasphemy.
4. — (1) A person convicted of an offence contrary to Section 2.(1) of the Act of 1989 shall be deemed to have been convicted of the offence of blasphemy if the hatred intended or likely to have been been stirred up by them and for which they have been convicted is on account of the religion of a group of persons.
(2) No person shall be separately charged with the offence of blasphemy and no person other than a person convicted as specified in subsection (1) shall be deemed to have been convicted of the offence of blasphemy.
(3) The penalty imposed as a result of a conviction as specified in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be sufficient punishment of the offence of blasphemy and the person convicted shall suffer no further or enhanced penalty in that regard.



Explanatory Memorandum
Purpose of Bill
The purpose of this Bill is to clarify the meaning of the offence of the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter required by the Constitution so as not to bring it into conflict with the freedom of expression required by the Constitution and the need for open discourse in a free and democratic state.
Provisions of the Bill
Section 1 contains the short title and date of commencement of the Bill.
Section 2  contains the definitions used in the Bill.
Sections 3 repeals the provisions of the Defamation Act 2009 relating to the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter and the seizure of such matter by the Garda Síochána. The section also provides for the release from conviction or prosecution of those already convicted or currently facing trial and for the return of seized material.
Section 4 provides that only a person who has been convicted of intending or being likely to stir up hatred against a group of people on account of their religion under the provisions of the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act 1989 shall be deemed to have commited the offence of publishing or uttering blasphemous matter and that the penalty incurred by their conviction shall be sufficient punishment as required by the Constitution.