Middle aged and eldery voters urged to vote Yes in same-sex poll

Fianna Fáil launches Yes campaign saying No side is making ‘outrageous assertions’

Margaret Gill  at the launch of the Fianna Fáil marriage referendum campaign in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Margaret Gill at the launch of the Fianna Fáil marriage referendum campaign in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Middle-aged and elderly voters have been urged by Fianna Fail to take the “brave step, the tolerant step” and vote Yes in the same-sex marriage referendum.

Former government minister Pat Carey, who came out as gay earlier this year, said people uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage had three weeks to polling day to reconcile themselves with the proposal.

Mr Carey (67), speaking at the launch of Fianna Fáil’s campaign for a Yes vote, said he wanted “to appeal to those who have said they are just uncomfortable with this measure.

“There are many, many people of my age out there who are living excruciatingly lonely and isolated lives. They are finding it virtually impossible to exist.”

True republic

He had encountered many people in recent weeks who said they were uncomfortable with same-sex marriage but he said they had the “best part of three weeks” to think their position through.

“I believe what is being proposed will actually enhance the fabric of Irish society and will make Ireland a better and a truer republic.

“In the coming year, we won’t just be paying lip service to the [1916] Proclamation but we will be cherishing all the children of the nation equally. That’s why I am appealing to people of my generation, all over the country, to take the brave step, the tolerant step, to extend the hand of generosity to the small number of people who wish to be to allowed to get married and avail of equality.”

Mr Carey said he had been written to by a man he called “Frank”, who had been with his partner for 20 years, although it would be “an exaggeration” to say they were together. One lived in London because he could not talk about his sexuality in Ireland, while the other remained in Dublin.

‘A solid No’

“They were looking forward to being able to marry. Unfortunately, one of the partners who had been living in London has now got Alzheimer’s, has been made a ward of court and is in a nursing home here in Ireland. That couple will never enjoy the pleasure of marriage.”

Senator Averil Power, the party’s deputy director of elections, said she had encountered a 92-year-old woman while canvassing in recent weeks.

Ms Power said the woman told her she would have been a “solid No” if she had been asked to vote last year but her attitude had changed since her grandson came out six months ago. Her grandson had difficulties as a child and a teenager but she now realised why, and hoped one day to go to his wedding.

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin said he would take part in any debate during the referendum campaign. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been asked to take part in debates but has yet to commit to doing so.

Mr Martin said some on the No side were making “outrageous assertions”, especially about children.

“Those who are advocating No on the basis of introducing children into the argument are essentially endeavouring to move society backwards. Marriage is not defined by children alone. There are many fine marriages that do not have children.”