Unholy trinity of religious referendums on a single day

With Charles Flanagan’s call for a children’s rights referendum as soon as possible in the wake of the latest clerical child abuse scandal, the intriguing possibility of an unholy trinity of religious-inspired referendums now looms in the near future.

Flanagan’s call for Fianna Fáil to hold the children’s rights referendum double-quick is unlikely to be heeded, given how close the government is to a general election.

But it seems safe to assume that Flanagan, the Fine Gael justice spokesman and a leading candidate to be the next minister for justice, would move to have his own government hold such a referendum. I mean, politicians keep their promises, don’t they?

The children’s rights referendum was first mooted after a supreme court decision effectively abolishing the crime of statutory rape, because the defence of “honest mistake” was not available.

Meanwhile, as the fallout from the ECHR decision on the C Case continues, there have been calls for a second (or should that be sixth?) abortion referendum, this time inspired by concern for the well-being of unborn children from the priestly classes.

And completing the trinity, on the To-Do list in outgoing justice minister Dermot Ahern’s office is a referendum to remove outdated references to blasphemy from the constitution. Last year, Ahern said he was forced to include the crime of blasphemy in a law on defamation because of the outdated constitutional baggage.

So that’s a referendum to stop protecting God (or Gods, or Goddesses, the defamation law is quite ecumenical) from citizens who want to badmouth Him. Or Her. Or Them.

Saints preserve us!