Sports stars call for Yes vote in marriage referendum

Former Cork hurler says ratification would offer reassurance to young gay people

GAA, rugby and athletics stars have teamed up to call for a Yes vote in the samre-sex marriage referendum on May 22nd.

Cork hurler Donal Og Cusack, Mayo footballer Aidan O'Shea, Irish rugby player Peter O'Mahony and athletics star Derval O'Rourke are supporting the Yes campaign.

The athletes all feature in a 45 second video launched by Yes Equality at the Triskel Christchurch in Cork.

All-Ireland winning hurler Og Cusack, who came out while still playing hurling for Cork, spoke about the importance of same-sex marriage.


“From a personal point of view, a Yes vote would mean a lot. I came up in a time through secondary school when it was illegal to be gay. Things have changed a lot since then.

“I always keep this image in my head of a young sports person who is growing up gay, and I think what a wonderful message it sends out to them to say it’s okay to be who you are. “

The launch was also attended by Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney who said those with a traditional view of marriage have nothing to fear from a Yes vote.

Mr Coveney, the Minister for Agriculture, said the referendum was simply about extending the same marital rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples to people who have hitherto been excluded from marriage.

The launch at Triskel Christchurch was attended by Rebecca Murphy, Stephen Spillane and Arthur Leahy of Yes Equality Cork and Tiernan Brady of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network

Also attending the video launch were several Fine Gael politicians including Minister of State Dara Murphy, Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer and Senator Colm Burke.

Speaking earlier, Mr Coveney responded to comments by Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin that the traditional view of marriage was "special and unique".

Archbishop Martin said a Yes vote would lead to “a very definite break with human history and with the natural institution of marriage” which he said was “worth protecting”.

But Mr Coveney said that as a practising Catholic, he did not see extending the right to marry to homosexual couples as a threat to the traditional view of marriage.

"I take my faith seriously. I am a regular massgoer. I don't think this should be an issue that Catholics are uncomfortable with," Mr Coveney told the Evening Echo.

“It’s about compassion, generosity and support for a section of society that has essentially been discriminated against by the State – these are very Christian values.

“It’s about recognising equality and reaching out to a group of people who are looking for recognition.... This is a chance for us to say that modern Ireland values everyone.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times