Most think marriage better than cohabitation for children and society


MOST PEOPLE think marriage is better for society and for children than cohabitation, according to a survey published today.

The poll, commissioned by the Catholic Iona Institute, found that 92 per cent of the public support a child’s right to a mother and a father. Some 72 per cent believe parents should decide what is best for children instead of an outside agency, except in cases of abuse or neglect.

According to the 2006 census, there were 121,000 cohabiting couples in the State then, a 400 per cent increase on 1996 figures.

The Red C poll consisted of a telephone interview with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and over, between December 1st and 3rd last. Interviews were conducted across the State with the margin of error on the sample size of plus or minus 3.2 per cent, according to the researchers.

The poll showed Fine Gael supporters were more supportive of marriage, followed by Fianna Fáil, Labour, Sinn Féin and Green supporters. Whereas 53 per cent agreed that “in general marriage is better for society than couples living together”, this rose to 68 per cent among Fine Gael supporters.

Sixty-one per cent agreed “in general it is better for children if their parents are married”. Eighteen per cent disagreed and 21 per cent had no opinion.

A total of 92 per cent agreed that “in general, a child has a right to a father and a mother where possible,” with just 2 per cent disagreeing and 6 per cent with no opinion.

With the statement “Except in cases of abuse or neglect, parents should decide what is best for their children rather than an outside organisation”, 72 per cent were in agreement; 15 per cent disagreed, and 6 per cent had no opinion.

Commenting on the findings, Iona Institute director David Quinn said they lent “powerful support to the current practice of favouring marriage in the law”.

That 92 per cent of those polled believed it better that children be raised by a mother and father was particularly interesting in that “the family-diversity viewpoint challenges this position,” he said.

The finding that 72 per cent supported parents in deciding what was best for children, rather than outside agencies, “went to the heart of the debate about children’s rights”, he said.