Senators critical of 'vicious' Bill protesters


SEANAD REPORT:THE CATHOLIC hierarchy should recognise that the passage of the Civil Partnership Bill by the Dáil without a vote showed that the bishops were more in tune with homophobes than they were with the people’s representatives, Joe O’Toole (Ind) said.

The Bill is to be debated in the Seanad next Wednesday and Thursday. Criticising the tenor of an anti-Bill demonstration outside Leinster House last Thursday, Mr O’Toole said it was unacceptable for any group to be haranguing and threatening not just parliamentarians but also visitors.

This type of behaviour should be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities. The Bill’s passage was a landmark event.

He welcomed the views of all groups, be they bishops or penitent. But the group outside the gate, who seemed to be some kind of urban guerrillas “working on behalf of the same point of view, are people who are completely vicious, aggressive and nasty, with a total preoccupation with the sexual habits of gay people in bed.”

Paul Coghlan (FG) said that in his 12 years or so as a senator, he had never experienced such a sense of viciousness and a determination to target members of the Oireachtas. Steps should be taken to ensure that any protest at the gates of parliament would be conducted peacefully.

Jerry Buttimer (FG) said the passage of the Bill represented a tremendous day for Ireland. He paid tribute to the Fianna Fáil party, and to the Greens, saying that it would not have happened but for the presence of the minor party in government.

Mark Dearey (Green) said the only moral issue in the legislation centred on the need to ensure that people were not denied their civil rights.

Ronán Mullen (Ind) said that as things stood, the Greens supported “banging people up in prison and fining them if they dare to differ from the prevailing consensus around civil partnership, and that is not just.”

Seanad leader Donie Cassidy said the progress of the Bill through the Dáil had shown the world that this was a very mature democracy.