The Irish Times is reporting that the Minister for Justice proposes to introduce a provision into the defamation bill under discussion by committee that will prohibit blasphemous libel. The provision would read in part:
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 €100,000.
According to the news report:
“Blasphemous matter” is defined as 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 he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”
The Irish constitution (Article 40 para. 6 i) currently prohibits blasphemy, and is an explicit qualification of the guaranteed freedom of speech.
I suppose the notion is that of preserving public order, one of the key elements in the constitutional exception, with the dubious protection of an intent requirement in the proposed law.