Gilmore says gay marriage referendum possible next year

Tanaiste pledges no undue delay in holding referendum

A referendum on gay marriage is possible next year, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

A referendum on gay marriage is possible next year, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

 

A referendum on gay marriage is possible next year, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

He said a referendum would be held in the course of time. “I do not expect there will be an undue delay,’’ he added. “It will be a matter of finding a suitable time for it to be held.’’

Asked if the referendum would be held next year, he said: “That is a possibility, yes.’’ He added that there were local and European elections scheduled for next year and other referendums likely to be held.

Mr Gilmore was speaking to journalists in Dublin yesterday after the National Day of Commemoration ceremony in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. A possibility, he said, might be to take a number of referendums, based on recommendations from the constitutional convention, on the same day.

Asked about media reports that the Government might not take an agreed position in a gay marriage referendum, Mr Gilmore said the issues arising from the convention had a different genesis. “They are not arising from Government decisions,’’ he added.

Pressed further on the issue, Mr Gilmore said it was something that might well arise. “It is something we have not given a great deal of consideration to yet,’’ he added. “The Constitution, in any event, is the people’s property.’’

Government sources said last night that Fine Gael and Labour might decide not to either formally support or oppose a referendum on gay marriage to avoid divisions within the two parties. “No decision has been made on that, but a referendum will definitely be held, perhaps next year,’’ said a source.

Meanwhile, former minister of state Lucinda Creighton has said she would not campaign against gay marriage in the run-up to any referendum and would support the necessary legislation in the Dail if the Irish people voted Yes.

“It is not a fundamental issue for me in the way that abortion is,’’ she added.

Speaking on the Marian Finucane show on RTE Radio on Saturday, Ms Creighton said gay marriage was a sensitive issue and people should make up their own minds.

She said she had supported legislation on civil partnerships. While she had opposed gay marriage before the election, that was also the Fine Gael position at the time and it had subsequently changed its mind.

“Loads of my friends are gay and I don’t see myself as being opposed to gay rights,’’ she added.