Cillian Murphy criticises ‘negative use’ of children in referendum campaign

Same-sex marriage vote relates to a human right for adults, actor and NUIG professor say

Actor Cillian Murphy and NUI Galway (NUIG) professor Pat Dolan have criticised the "negative" use of children and their welfare in the current debate about the same-sex marriage referendum.

The stage and screen actor, who is a patron of the NUIG Child and Family Research Centre, has issued a joint statement with the academic due to a shared concern about the “divisive” and “unfair” involvement of children’s issues in the referendum debate.

Prof Dolan said that neither he nor Mr Murphy were advocating a vote one way or another, but believed children's issues should be treated separately.

“The forthcoming same sex marriage referendum relates to adults’ human right to marry whom they chose regardless of sexual orientation,” they said in a statement.


“Divisive negative issues raised in relation to children and their welfare are being used to deflect from the core question in the referendum,” it states.

"The position of the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG and its patron is that the most essential factor for a child or adolescent is that they have a loving, consistent and caring parent or parents who cater for their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social needs.

“This point of view is supported by a wealth of well-respected international research.”

The Cork actor has had a close engagement with the Unesco child and family research centre, and participated in a film screening and discussion on family, relationships and the community at the centre in Galway last year.

He has participated in training young researchers attached to the centre, working with groups on various issues related to mental health.

“The centre’s position is the achievement of young people’s rights requires that their hopes and wishes for their future be realised regardless of their sexual orientation, and inclusive of their rights to marry,”Mr Murphy and Prof Dolan state.

“ Despite the fact that our centre has trained young researchers with a view on this matter, it is notable that just as in the case of the Children’s Referendum in 2013, the voice and opinion of young people is in the main absent in the discourse, despite adults purporting to represent their interests.”

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times