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Atheism and the Blasphemy Law in Ireland

On 1 January 2010 the new Irish blasphemy law became operational and the advocacy group Atheist Ireland responded by publishing 25 blasphemous quotes on its website. This was part of an ongoing campaign that mixed serious lobbying and political satire, with submissions to the Irish Justice Department and President combined with the setting up of a Church of Dermotology to worship Justice Minister Dermot Ahern. Less than three months later, the Minister proposed the holding of a referendum later this year to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Irish Constitution, which would in turn enable the law to be repealed. This talk will review the campaign against the Irish blasphemy law and explore the lessons to be drawn for all secular activists, both domestically and working together internationally

MICHAEL NUGENT is a bestselling Irish writer and chairperson of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland. He has written or co-written four books including the number one bestselling Dear John Letters, and the successful comedy musical play I, Keano. He has campaigned on many political, liberal and justice issues, including opposing paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland.
He is the inaugural chairperson of Atheist Ireland, which has led opposition to the new Irish blasphemy law through a combination of public meetings, political lobbying and the publication of 25 blasphemous quotations by prominent people on the website blasphemy.ie. Atheist Ireland also campaigns for an ethical and secular Irish constitution and education system.

SPES Sunday lectures are free and open to all – no bookings are required. For more info please contact programme@ethicalsoc.org.uk



Mr Michael Nugent | talks | www


Date and Time:

16 May 2010 at 11:00 am


2 hours



Conway Hall
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
0207 242 8034

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Distortions and exaggerations

Posted at 2:33 PM on 16 May, 2010 by F X Robinson

Those who are lectured by fools are made fools of.
William Roderick Kerrigan

It would be unfortunate if those who attended this lecture were to be misled into believing distortions and exaggerations about the so called Atheist Ireland ''blasphemy campaign''. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Minister in question Dermot Ahern was influenced by such a campaign. The law was reported in the international media some of whom commented on the tame nature of the AI campaign which took place largely in the vacuum of cyberspace. Mr Ahern is on record as stating that his intention all along was to include the law in a referendum. There is no reason to believe otherwise. Not one single person or organisation has been charged or even investigated under the law. Given the Machiavellian nature of Catholic Church dominated politics in Ireland, exactly what his real intentions were are still not know. It may even have been a red herring designed to distract and occupy the very people it did in order to divert a source of possible threat in light of the revelations of Catholic Church child rape and torture. The vast majority of the Irish people are not even aware there is such a law and in my experience couldn’t care less.

Irish politicians do not respond to penniless organisations with less than three hundred members and they never will. They ignore far bigger organisations with much wider support on issues of national importance on an almost weekly basis.

The distortions on the part of AI start with the 25 blasphemous quotes which were claimed to be a challenge to the law. They were not. All of them were made before the law was brought in and as such none of them qualified. The quotes were by a collection of mostly dead, non-resident or fictitious people. No one from Atheist Ireland actually made any attempt to break the law. It’s a gross exaggeration and a complete misrepresentation of the facts to give the impression that AI campaigned and three months later the minister gave way.

Incidentally Mr. Nugent did not write the musical comedy I Keano. According to the wiki entry of Arthur Matthews (who co-wrote Father Ted with Graham Linehan) there were three other writers involved. The play was written by Arthur Matthews, Paul Woodfull, Conor Phillips and Michael Nugent.


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