GRA defends call for members to back same-sex marriage

Stance ‘does not contravene’ requirement garda body remains apolitical

The Garda Representative Association’s general secretary, PJ Stone, said his association stood over its remarks supporting same-sex marriage and saw no issue with expressing a preference for one side in  the referendum debate. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

The Garda Representative Association’s general secretary, PJ Stone, said his association stood over its remarks supporting same-sex marriage and saw no issue with expressing a preference for one side in the referendum debate. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

The body representing rank and file gardaí has defended urging its members to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in the upcoming referendum,saying the stance does not contravene the requirement on it and its members to remain apolitical.

The Garda Representative Association used an editorial in its Garda Review magazine to urge members to vote Yes. It was the first time the organisation, which represents more than 10,000 gardaí, has recommended how its members should vote in any referendum or vote.

General secretary PJ Stone said the association stood over its remarks and saw no issue with expressing a preference for one side of the debate.

“The GRA don’t see this as a political issue,” he said at the closing session of the association’s annual conference in Tullow, Co Carlow.

“We see it as a moral issue and we believe all of our members should have equality under the law as every other citizen should have equality under the law.”

Mr Stone pointed out that Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin had supported the association’s stance, saying all bodies representing workers should strive for equality.

Under the oath they take on becoming Garda members, all gardaí commit to remaining apolitical, including refraining from joining a political party or working in support of any party.

The Garda Review editorial pointed out the association had long campaigned for equality on issues of disability, race, gender and sexual orientation within the force.

“The marriage equality referendum is the first time that many of our members willhave the opportunity to directly support such equality in the legislative process. Your vote is your voice; together we can make a positive difference.”