Joan Burton says Yes vote will take nothing out of Constitution
Simon Coveney criticises dishonest campaign run by some on the No side
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Ms Burton said children would continue to grow up in Ireland in a variety of family types. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton has said a Yes vote in the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum would not remove anything from the Constitution.
Ms Burton said children would continue to grow up in Ireland in a variety of family types. How they were parented in terms of love, nurturing and care would be the key factors in their happiness, she added.
“This is taking, and I want to stress this, nothing from the Constitution, it’s just adding those words... to extend marriage to two people without distinction as to their sex,” she said.
“Nothing is being taken out of the Constitution. There is a sentence being added, that is all.”
On Friday, voters will be asked if they agree or disagree with the proposition: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme on Monday, Ms Burton said surrogacy was a very important issue but it had nothing to do with the referendum.
Surrogacy would be examined by the Oireachtas committee on health in the autumn and a public consultation would also take place.
Ms Burton said the referendum campaign to date had been a positive experience.
She said absolute freedom of religious expression and practice, which were protected by the Constitution, would remain in place.
“None of that will change,” she said.
Schools with a religious ethos had the right to teach their pupils as they saw fit in terms of religion.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney criticised some sections of the ‘No’ campaign for engaging in dishonest campaigning ahead of Friday’s referendum on same-sex marriage.
Speaking in Brussels on Monday morning where he is attending a joint meeting of EU foreign affairs and defence ministers with Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, Mr Coveney said there had been an attempt by some on the ‘No’ side to debate issues that are unconnected to the vote.
“I think there’s been a very dishonest campaign by some on the No side to try and create a debate around things that worry people, that have nothing to do with this particular vote. This is about Ireland making a decision about whether two gay people who love each other can actually get married in civil marriage and get the protection of the Constitution for their lifelong relationship. That’s all it’s about. I hope that people will vote for that. I think it’s the right thing to do and I think it leaves the past behind, a past that was based on prejudice for gay people and I think Ireland has an opportunity to take a really positive step forward together on Friday.”
Asked about the recent Irish Times poll which showed strong support for the Yes side, Mr Coveney said there was no room for complacency.
“There’s no complacency on the Yes side. We have worked really hard during this campaign and will continue to work really hard right up until polling day [...]I know from experience that there’s no such thing as an easily-won referendum campaign.”
Mr Coveney, who is director of elections for Fine Gael in the campaign, said that one of the most interesting aspects of the referendum debate was the active role taken by young people.
“So many young people have chosen to register to vote for the first time because they feel strongly about this issue.... I would appeal to all of those young people. This is an opportunity to change Ireland for the better. Take it and make sure you vote on Friday.”
He said that Friday was a hugely important day for the country.
“Gay people are our friends, they are our neighbours, they are our children and I hope that people will vote to allow people in the gay community to be themselves, to live and to love as is normal for them, rather than society trying to force them into a different form of life.”