Marriage referendum


Sir, – My thanks to Breda O’Brien for her stimulating article on violent fanaticism in Indiana, capitalist rapacity in Indonesia and China and avuncular paternity services for unmarried celebrities in London (“This twisting and tangling of family tree just the beginning”, Opinion & Analysis April 11th). I will be sure to keep these issues to the very forefront of my mind when I enter my local polling station on May 22nd to vote on whether marriage should be allowed in Ireland for gay and lesbian couples. – Yours, etc,


Howth, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Breda O’Brien cites the practice of sperm donation in gay family planning, implying that gay marriage will open the door to donor-facilitated fertility treatments in Ireland. The fact is that the majority of Irish people already undergoing donor-assisted fertility treatments, both at home and abroad, are likely to be heterosexual married or unmarried couples. Let us not scapegoat and penalise gay people for any perceived shortcomings in the regulation of the fertility industry. It is possible to vote Yes to marriage equality, in good conscience, even when one is ethically opposed to the use of donors in fertility treatments. They are separate issues. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 18.

Sir, – The referendum next month proposes to extend civil marriage to all citizens. It does not impose obligations on religious bodies to participate in, or facilitate such marriages. Quite correctly the State has decided that it owes a greater obligation to the equal right to marry than to continue the current two-tier system of civil marriage and civil partnership.

If Breda O’Brien would like the state to vindicate “the right to dissent” of religious conservatives then it behoves her to outline what limits (if any) will apply. Who will decide which specific religious beliefs are worthy of protection and which rights the state should subrogate to that end? – Yours, etc,


Carraig na bhFear,

Co Cork.

Sir, – I don’t think you need a man and a woman to raise a child. I started life in a Catholic orphanage run by nuns, a very happy place. I had 10 years in boarding school run by Catholic nuns and loved every minute of it. I had my bag packed and ready to return a week before the holidays ended. My adoptive mother was widowed when I was six and worked all her life, and didn’t remarry until I was 19. So all my formative years were without a man in my life.

One question does occur to me – if being raised by a man and a woman is so important then why didn’t the church see to it that the boys and girls, like me, had men and women to care for them in those institutions? Why didn’t the nuns and priests or brothers who ran residential institutions have to live in community in those institutions? For the sake of the children’s welfare and best formation, of course.

I would have loved to have had my dad all my life and I loved my stepfather. But I didn’t need either to be well raised. It’s love that matters, whether the parent is single, homosexual or heterosexual. – Yours, etc,



Killarney, Co Kerry.