Charlie Flanagan says Ireland "can send a strong message to the world"

Cabinet ministers have given permission to hold a referendum on blasphemy laws.

The Justice Minister wants to delete the section of the constitution that references blasphemy.

At the moment the law states a person who publishes or utters blasphemous content can face a maximum fine of €25,000.

The Government hopes to hold the referendum along with another vote on removing the reference in the constitution to a woman's place in the home.

The vote could take place on the same day as a possible presidential election in October.

Minister Flanagan said this is an 'important step' for Ireland’s international reputation.

File photo of Charlie Flanagan. Image: RollingNews.ie

He said: "Regrettably, there are some countries in the world where blasphemy is an offence, the punishment of which is being put to death.  

"In these countries, such laws are not an anachronism but a very real threat to the lives of those who do not share the views of those enforcing the laws.  

He added: "Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values. By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”

The Dáil will now have to consider the referendum bill before a Referendum Commission can be established.