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Written Answers - Proposed Legislation

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 147.  Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  his views on the blasphemous libel provision in the Defamation Act 2009; if he views it as a matter of concern; if he has any plans to repeal this provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7268/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that Article 40.6.1.i of the Constitution places an obligation on the legislature in regard to blasphem[169]ous libel. Successive Attorneys General had advised the Government that until the Constitution is amended by referendum, it is necessary that blasphemous libel remain a crime and that legislation must make provision for punishment of this crime.

In reforming our defamation laws, the previous Government opted to make minimum provision in regard to blasphemous libel in the new legislation. Section 36 of the Defamation Act 2009, therefore, removes the possibility of prison sentences and private prosecutions for blasphemous libel. It also provides for a defence to a defendant who proves that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.

The Constitutional Convention that is proposed in the Programme for Government will include blasphemy in its review.

 148.  Deputy Patrick O’Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  his plans to tighten the law relating to the exploitation of elderly persons in vulnerable situations such as long-term residential care, in conjunction with the mental capacity Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7269/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Mental Capacity Bill, due to be published in the current Dáil Session, will reform the law on mental capacity and will replace the Wards of Court system with a modern statutory framework governing decision-making on behalf of adults who lack capacity. In drafting the Bill, attention is being given to putting in place safeguards to protect vulnerable adults, lacking capacity to manage their own affairs, from exploitation. In particular, the Bill will contain detailed provisions for the supervision of personal guardians of adults lacking capacity and also of donees of enduring powers of attorney.

As the Deputy is aware, policy and responsibility for the regulation of standards in residential care settings, including protection from abuse and exploitation, lies with the Minister for Health and HIQA under the Health Act 2007.


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