Dáil debates

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

4:25 pm

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Mayo, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I take the Deputy's point about the education system and schools. When I next meet the school patron, I will be happy to engage on this matter. I will also bring the Deputy's point to the attention of the Minister for Education and Skills who may meet the patron before I do.

The atrocities in Paris were atrocious and shocked the world. I was privileged to represent the Irish people in Paris where the leaders of the countries of Europe and beyond walked in demonstration of the right to liberty and freedom of speech. It was a demonstration of the "Why?" of the European Union.

I agree with the Deputy. To equate what happened in Paris with the Islamic faith or the Muslim religion is the same as blaming Rome for the atrocities of the IRA or the Church of England for loyalist atrocities. The Islamic faith is one of compassion and peace. What more evidence can we obtain of terrorism than when a policeman - a Muslim - is shot in cold blood and murdered on the street?

It is true to say there is a great need for vigilance and very careful monitoring of absolute terrorism as distinct from anything to do with religious beliefs. Clearly, the authorities here - the Minister for Justice and Equality, the security committee and the Garda - are constantly monitoring the situation. The Deputy is aware that the Minister pointed out that 30 people from Ireland had travelled to Syria and other places in that region. I understand three of them were killed, although I cannot speak about what the other 27 were up to. This is an issue that concerns us in a non-aggressive, non-militarised country. Let me assure Deputy Micheál Martin that, in terms of the security of the people and the State, this is something that is monitored very closely. Obviously, if it is necessary to talk to the Deputy about it, we will do so.

On the question of blasphemy, the Constitutional Convention made quite a number of recommendations and the Government has accepted that there should be a referendum on removing blasphemy from the Constitution. In the month of May there will be two referendums, one on marriage equality and other on changes to the constitutional age limit for eligibility to stand for the Presidency. In respect of Carlow-Kilkenny where a by-election is pending, it will be held on the same day. To be honest with the Deputy, I do not expect another referendum in the lifetime of the Government. I said last week that there would not be and while there has not been a final decision by the Government, I do not expect that there will be. What we did say was that when the Constitutional Convention issued its reports, if the Government accepted the recommendations of the convention, it would indicate its intention to hold a referendum on whatever the issue might be. That stands; it was not the intention to have an indicative timeline for all of these issues. I think six referendums have been held in the course of the term of office of the Government to date, with some being approved by the people. The position is that the intention is to remove blasphemy from the-----


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