Gardai launch probe into blasphemy complaint against Stephen Fry

The investigation relates to comments made by Stephen Fry in a 2015 interview

Updated at 16:27

Senior Garda sources have confirmed they've received a complaint against Stephen Fry in relation to a breach of blasphemy laws. 

The investigation relates to comments Stephen Fry made in an interview with Gay Byrne on RTÉ's 'The Meaning of Life'.

In the 2015 interview, the actor and writer suggested that God was "mean-minded" and "stupid" and stated that if God did exist then he was "clearly a maniac". 

People convicted of blasphemy under the 2009 Defamation Act can face a fine of up to €25,000. 

The law prohibits the "publishing or uttering [of] matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion."

Civic duty 

The man who made the complaint has told the Irish Independent that he wasn't personally offended by the remarks, but believes he was doing his civic duty by reporting a crime.

During the interview in 2015, Gay Byrne asked Fry what he would say to God at the pearly gates.

Fry responded by saying "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery.

"It’s not our fault, It’s not right! It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"

Speaking about the investigation, a garda source said "A complaint has been received and it is currently being investigated. Detectives will speak to those involved if they are available and a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions."

Atheist Ireland response 

Atheist Ireland have recently welcomed the police investigation into Stephen Fry saying that "it highlights a law that is silly, silencing, and dangerous. "

Atheist Ireland Chairperson, Michael Nugent said in a statement that "It is a silly law because it suggests that the creator of the universe needs the Oireachtas to protect its feelings.

"It is a silencing law because many Irish media outlets are self-censoring themselves to avoid the possibility of being prosecuted.

"It is a dangerous law because the Islamic States at the United Nations use western blasphemy laws to justify their own blasphemy laws, for which they execute people."

He continued by saying "Atheist Ireland published 25 blasphemous quotes on the day this law came into operation on 1st January 2010.

"We challenged the Government to either prosecute us, in which case we would have challenged the constitutionality of the law, or else to acknowledge that the law was ineffective and therefore should be abolished.

"The Government has since committed to holding a referendum to remove the law, but of course has not done so."

Mr Nugent finished by saying "It is no wonder that such a Parliament has given the Catholic Church control of most of our State-funded schools and hospitals, and now has plans to give it another €300 million National Maternity Hospital."