The Defamation Act 2009 abolished defamation, seditious libel, and obscene libel as criminal offences.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
Art. 40 of the Irish Constitution provides that “[t]he publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”.
Art. 36 of the Defamation Act 2009 punishes blasphemy with a fine not exceeding €25,000. The Act defines blasphemy as “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.” The offender must have intentionally sought to cause such outrage.
There is no liability for blasphemy if the offender can “prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value” in the allegedly blasphemous content.
Criminal Defamation and Media
Recent Legal Changes
In 2009, Ireland adopted the Defamation Act 2009 to modernise the regulation of libel, including the repeal of criminal defamation laws.
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information for Ireland was originally collected by IPI as part of the “Out of Balance” report, published in January 2015 with support from the European Commission and incorporating research contributed by Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University in Budapest and by the SHARE Foundation in Belgrade. This entry was later expanded and updated by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
A fully footnoted version of this entry is available in the OSCE study. This entry was last updated in March 2017.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.