Mothers and Fathers Matter launches No referendum campaign

Group says children cannot be taken ‘out of equation’ in same-sex marriage vote

Prof Ray Kinsella, of Mothers and Fathers Matter. The group has launched a campaign for a No vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.  File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Prof Ray Kinsella, of Mothers and Fathers Matter. The group has launched a campaign for a No vote in the same-sex marriage referendum. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Public opinion on same-sex marriage will “swing back to the status quo” as the referendum date approaches, a spokesman for a group supporting a No vote said on Friday.

Speaking at the Mothers and Fathers Matter campaign launch in Dublin, spokesman Keith Mills described as “notoriously unreliable” early opinion polls on referendums.

“There has consistently been, on no matter what issue, a swing back to the status quo in the last month of the campaign and I expect that to happen here because we have far better arguments than the opposition have,” he said.

“Once the debates kick in then I think we will see the Irish people supporting marriage and the family as it exists at the moment.” He said the swing had already started and would continue.

An Ipsos/MRBI survey for The Irish Times last month found that, when undecided voters were excluded, support for a Yes vote stood at 74 per cent, while support for the No side was 26 per cent.

The poll showed the Yes vote was declining: support for same-sex marriage was down six points since the previous poll in December while the No side was up by six points.

Referring to Twitter’s support for a Yes vote, declared on Thursday, Mr Mills said it set a “worrying precendent”. He said he would express that view whether the company had advocated a Yes or a No vote.

“I don’t believe corporations, particularly foreign corporations, should be interfering in Irish politics,” he said. “When we get around to a General Election next year are they going to tell people how to vote then?”

Spokeswoman Kate Bopp said two men could love a child but neither one could be a mother. She said studies showed teenagers who grew up without a father were “more prone to crime” while young women “tend to gravitate towards abusive relationships”, although she stressed this would not happen in all cases.

Asked about her comments, she said: “The research that I read, the way it was phrased, said that the prisons were full of young men who never knew their fathers.” Asked to identify the research, she referred to US Department of Health census figures on youth suicides from “fatherless homes”.

Tom Finnegan, an adviser to the group as well as the Family and Life organisation, outlined the group’s funding target of at least €160,000 in small donations from individuals across Ireland. “I think we’ve got roughly €80,000 so far. We’re hoping to get another €80,000 if not more by the end of the campaign. We do realise we’re going to be heavily outspent by the other side,” he said.

He confirmed the group is considering taking a legal challenge against provisions in the Children and Family Relationships Act in the event of a No vote.

Chairman of Mothers and Fathers Matter Prof Ray Kinsella acccused the Government of acting with expediency, “purportedly taking children out of the equation”, by enacting the Children and Family Relationships Bill before the referendum. “You can never take children out of the equation,” he said.