The referendums – the people have spoken

 

Sir, – It is time to abolish the outdated broadcasting moratorium. While doing a Google search at 14.15pm on Thursday, 15 minutes into the moratorium, I was greeted with this message from Google: “Google supports marriage equality #ProudToLove”. For good measure it also offered the message as Gaelige: “Seasann Google leis an ionannas pósta #BródAnGhrá”.

Google could equally have had a message subject to its unregulated whims that said “Google believes marriage is between a man and a woman”. Would this be acceptable?

If there were no broadcast moratorium it would be possible for either side of the debate to complain on television and radio, to reach a mass audience instantly, at that interference in the referendum. TV3 could not even highlight this story about Google on air because it would breach the moratorium.

I am calling on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to abolish the broadcast moratorium outside the hours of voting.

Previous calls have fallen on deaf ears (TV3 has always had an issue that UK broadcasters widely available in Ireland are not subject to the moratorium) but now that the age of global communications has come home to roost the moratorium must be abolished or Google may decide the result in a future closely called referendum. – Yours, etc,

DAVID McREDMOND,

Chief Executive,

TV3 ,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – Of all the gay men in Ireland, David Norris (May 21st), above all, should know that homosexuality was never a crime in this country.

What he bravely took to Europe, and challenged there, was a different crime, that of homosexual acts. Pat Carey, an acknowledged gay man, has regularly confirmed this in public during the current referendum campaign.

David Norris was successful in Europe and I supported him at that time and wrote about it. I have letters of gratitude, both from him and from others, who backed the removal of this ridiculous criminal offence.

Merely being homosexual was not a crime and I have published that fact regularly during the referendum campaign. Among others who should have known better was Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who made the same mistake in your paper in an article claiming she repealed the law against homosexuality, a law that did not exist. She in fact, and reluctantly, mopped up the legal debris left by David Norris’s brave battle in Europe.– Yours, etc,

BRUCE ARNOLD,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Senator David Norris’s ad hominem attack on Bruce Arnold was nothing short of disgraceful. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. – Yours, etc,

PAUL DELANEY,

Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Senator David Norris makes the startling claim that since Bruce Arnold has “not a drop of Irish blood” his intervention in the referendum debate is tainted.

Whatever next – a referendum on the introduction of anti-miscegenation laws? – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – Máire Geoghegan-Quinn drew attention to her role in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993. But the process of implementation of that legislation had an important context.

During the election campaign of late 1992, the then taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil, Albert Reynolds, was asked at a press conference if he would bring in legislation to decriminalise homosexuality. He replied that it would be at the bottom of his list of priorities and it was not an item in the Fianna Fáil manifesto.

It was a commitment in the Labour Party manifesto. In the subsequent negotiations for government (in which I was involved) the issue was tabled as a Labour Party condition for participation in government. It was vigorously opposed by the Fianna Fáil negotiators, but was eventually agreed as part of the programme for government, at Labour’s insistence. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, as minister for justice, was obviously the person then responsible for ensuring that the legislation was processed. – Yours, etc,

JAMES WRYNN,

Dublin 6.

A chara, – Whatever the result of yesterday’s referendum on same-sex marriage, the conduct of the campaign itself raises important issues for our democracy.

Some that spring to mind are the fact that a large percentage of voters were abandoned by those they had elected to represent them by their failure to give voice to their point of view during the debate, that officers of state who are supposed to remain neutral intervened unchecked, and the mainstream media revealed itself as worryingly univocal.

The result was that a great many citizens felt unable to discuss openly their views around the issues, particularly in the early days of this debate. When the dust has settled in the aftermath of this referendum, people might do well to reflect calmly and deeply about these issues, particularly as they relate to which candidates and parties they choose to support come the next general election. – Is mise,

Rev PATRICK G BURKE,

Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – Now that the dust has settled and the people have voted, what bemuses me regarding the many letters your paper has printed, and I congratulate your paper for doing so, are the many luminaries who came out of the woodwork advocating equality, something we can all agree on, yet at the same time we have such inequality in this country, be it in education, housing, jobs, the status of asylum seekers, and so on. The vote on the marriage referendum is a classless issue, but the issues I have outlined are all to do with class. It would be great to see these luminaries get involved in the issues that I have outlined. – Yours, etc,

PAUL DORAN,

Clondalkin,

Dublin 22.

Sir, – As Sheriff of Dublin City from 1995 to 2012, I handled four general elections (600-plus ballot boxes each time), all European, presidential, local and byelections in that time and countless referendums. Never in all that time did any member of the Garda “seal and secure” any ballot boxes (May 21st).

It is not, and never has been, their function, that being the absolute responsibility of the returning officer and his staff – and his staff only.

Assuming she was correctly reported, someone should have a word in Ms Fidelma Healy Eames’s ear. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN WALSH,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Now that the electorate has voted on the 35th amendment to the Constitution, can we have one final referendum to abolish the outdated 1937 Constitution and the multitude of referendums needed to update it? – Yours, etc,

LOUIS O’FLAHERTY,

Dublin 9.

Sir, – If we were to ban the phrase “I didn’t interrupt you”, how much more time would we have to debate? – Yours, etc,

EAMONN MAGEE,

Sandycove, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Please can we have a referendum to finally resolve the vexed question of the role of letters to this newspaper – you know, the ones that attract multitudinous, space-wasting signatures supporting the author, a phenomenon that reached an historic high during the “marriage referendum”. I feel sure a motion to ban the practice would be universally carried, and would go some way to promote unity and reconciliation after this bitterly divisive referendum.

I haven’t petitioned the multitudes to co-sign my letter, but if anyone agrees, they can write their own blooming letter! – Yours, etc,

DECLAN DOYLE,

Lisdowney,

Kilkenny.

Sir, – What are you going to do with all the spare space on the letters page now that the referendum is over ? – Yours, etc,

VINCENT HEARNE,

Nabinaud,

France

Sir, – I have never before witnessed so many young people getting involved in a political campaign. It was a joy to witness.

I do hope their energy, creativity and commitment can be harnessed to deliver the change we need in so many other areas of Irish life. – Yours, etc,

MARIA EDWARDS,

Galway.

Sir, – I presume, and sincerely hope, that today will begin a decrease in the number of letters published in this paper about the referendum.

You can start by not publishing this one. – Yours, etc,

COLM HIGGINS,

Monkstown,

Co Dublin.