The criminalisation for Blasphemy is part of the Defamation Bill (2006-2009) and despite assurances on the issues of merit in the Arts, the Bill clearly incentivises legal action based in the ability of blasphemic utterance (incl. Arts and writing ) on the basis of Outrage, rather than seek to either remove the issue of blasphemy from the Irish constitution (by referendum) or to define clearly what blasphemy is.
Since 2003, the Arts in Ireland are subject to Ministerial control under the 2003 Art’s Act, thus the Arts Minister can get to define or arbitrate upon what is considered blasphemic. There’s no independence in the Arts, nor is it right to seek to criminalise the artist in the realm of ideas if S/he pisses off enough people to cause outrage.
For this reason I am including three links at the base of this note,
i). A link to the Secular Ireland petition
ii). A link to the Rouault Blasphemic debacle which occurred in 1942 ,and saw an Irish government refuse to hang the paintings of Rouault , accusing him of blasphemy and Incompetence.
iii). A link to the Art’s Act 2003 by O Donoghue, this allows an overt interference in funding and appointments by the Minister for Arts and Sport. It is a highly important document which should be studied to understand that through it the Arts lost their independence for the second time in the History of the State, allowing unwonted Governmental interference in what comprises Irish Art and expression – rather than Government aiding the provisioning of needed Arts Infrastructure.
* for More info on the historical precedents in Art’s funding and in Arts development in Ireland , A Concise History of Irish Art, London, Thames and Hudson 1969 : Info on Bruce Arnold and the Irish Arts.*