Ireland votes to abolish 'medieval' blasphemy law

Larry Hoffman
October 30, 2018

Campaigners in Ireland celebrated the end of a "medieval" ban on blasphemy on Saturday, after voters overwhelmingly backed removing the offence from the constitution in a referendum.

Opinion polls had Mr Casey, who lives in Donegal, on 2% but following on from controversial comments about those on social welfare and the traveller community his national popularity rose to 20%.

The Irish Government has appealed for people to use their vote but turnout is not expected to be as strong as the abortion referendum earlier this year.

"President Higgins has decades of public service achievement to his credit".

Mr Higgins, who was able to nominate himself as an independent candidate for another seven years, said: 'The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and overseas.

Even local priest Father Walter Macken, who said he considered the blasphemy provision "one of the small guarantees of religious coherence" in Ireland, failed to evoke fire and brimstone over the vote.

In the presidential vote, Higgins, a 77-year-old former parliamentary politician, academic and poet known affectionately to many as "Michael D.", is facing five challengers.

The turnout was 43.79% and 951,650 people voted to decriminalise blasphemy.

The Irish Times poll, conducted by Ipsos/MRBI, questioned more than 4,300 voters outside 160 polling stations across the country.

Higgins received 55.8 percent of the vote on Friday, and the results were quickly contested by other six candidates.

More than 3.2 million people were entitled to vote in 40 constituencies across the country.

Exit polls had suggested that the Referendum would be carried by between 69% and 71% - and that result was borne out in the official count.

Ahead of casting his vote, Mr Casey said he has "no regrets" about how his campaign evolved, even though at one point he claims to have considered dropping out of the race.

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar arrives to cast his vote in the Irish Presidential Election, at Castleknock in Dublin, Friday Oct. 26, 2018.

Second placed Peter Casey said: "I'd like to congratulate President Higgins and wish Sabina a wonderful seven years". He was elected in 2011. Four presidents - Sean T O'Kelly, Eamon de Valera, Patrick Hillery and Mary McAleese - served for 14 years.

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