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Niall Carson/PA Wire
World News

Voters back scrapping blasphemy offence from Ireland's constitution

In total, 951,650 (64.85 per cent of the electorate) supported the idea in a referenda held on Friday, while 515,808 (35.15 per cent) opposed it.

Welcoming the result, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "It is very much part of an ongoing campaign in many ways to reform our constitution, to make it a 21st century constitution or a 21st century Republic."

Since the 1960s, Ireland has undergone a process of social liberalisation, contrasting its strongly-Catholic and conservative past.

Ireland has voted in favour of repealing a series of laws - allowing for divorce, same-sex marriage and early stage abortion, in recent years.

Changing the law concerning blasphemy was backed by the Catholic Church but some Islamic leaders opposed it.

Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar briefs the media on the government's plans for a referendum on Ireland's restrictive abortion laws, following a specially convened cabinet meeting at Government Buildings in Dublin.

Since 1855, no one has been prosecuted for blasphemy in Ireland. Yet, anyone convicted could face a fine of 25,000 euros.

Blasphemy was defined as publishing or uttering something "grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion".

The referenda coincided with a presidential election in which Michael D Higgins was formally re-elected.

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