Shatter hails unanimous Dáil support for same-sex marriage
Flanagan calls for research into low turnout in referendums
Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan warned against assuming the referendum would be carried
The unanimous support for same-sex marriage in the Dáil last night was welcomed by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
“I think we have made history,’’ he said.
Mr Shatter said the House had agreed there was a need for constitutional change and that a referendum should be held.
“I think that is something we should celebrate,’’ the Minister added.
The Minister, in a debate on the constitutional convention’s report on same-sex marriage, joined Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan in warning against supporters of the referendum assuming it would be carried.
The Government had decided not to hold it until 2015 to ensure it was not misrepresented and that there was clarity in the minds of those coming out to vote, said Mr Shatter.
Mr Flanagan said there should be research to identify why there had been such a low turnout in recent referendums so as to better engage with voters in future polls.
“The Seanad referendum should be examined in detail to consider why people voted as they did and why 60 per cent of the voting population did not vote at all,’’ he added.
“We also need to know how and why a majority in favour four weeks before polling became a minority on the day.’’
Mr Flanagan said that while he very much favoured same-sex marriage, much preparatory work needed to be done next year to ensure voters fully engaged with the democratic process.
“Old prejudices have been systematically combated across a raft of legislative measures,’’ he added.
“These legal changes have reflected broader fundamental shifts in society as it moves along the path to real equality regardless of sexual orientation.’’
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the referendum should be held no later than 2015.
“The change envisaged by the convention would allow Ireland to join other countries around the world that have recognised marriage equality rights,’’ she added.
Jerry Buttimer (FG) said that in 20 years Ireland had moved from being a country where gay and lesbian people were seen as shameful and criminal in the State’s eyes to where they could openly celebrate their love and commitment.
However, they had not yet reached a point where gay couples could walk down the street in any town or village, holding hands, without being subjected to abuse.