Micheál Martin supports Carey’s decision to speak publicly about his private life

Fianna Fáil leader hopes decision to discuss issue will contribute to constructive debate

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he hopes former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey’s comments on the marriage equality referendum would contribute to a “respectful and constructive” debate.

In an interview with The Irish Times published on Friday, Mr Carey said he was gay and expressed concern that his party's same-sex marriage campaign lacked "energy and urgency".

Reacting to Mr Carey’s remarks, Mr Martin said: “Pat’s decision to talk publicly about his private life is one that I support and it is one that will, I hope, contribute to a respectful and constructive debate ahead of the marriage equality referendum.

“His personal honesty and integrity in the interviews he has given on the subject will not have come as any surprise to those of us who have worked alongside him.”

Referendum

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s director of elections for the referendum, justice spokesman

Niall Collins

, called on the Government to confirm the exact date for the poll, which is expected in May.

“Fianna Fáil will actively participate and campaign for the passage of this referendum. I will be holding a number of public meetings around the country to facilitate debate and discussion on the question people are being asked to vote on,” he said.

“The Government has created a difficult backdrop in which the referendum is being held but there is an extremely important message of progress and equality that those on the Yes side support and encourage. Clarity around the date of the referendum would be an important start.”

Mr Collins called for a date in early May to limit the impact on students studying for exams.

“The Government should clear up any confusion over when the marriage equality referendum will be held and name a date in early May for the vote.

“This will help political parties and interests to plan for the campaign and best facilitate the passage of the referendum.”