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Taoiseach on same-sex marriage: ‘I wouldn’t have the same opinion as the Tánaiste’

Enda Kenny will campaign for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, but does not agree with Eamon Gilmore’s assessment that it is the “civil rights issue of this generation”.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE TAOISEACH DOES not share the view of the Tánaiste that same-sex marriage is the “civil rights issue of this generation” ahead of a referendum on the issue which is due to take place in 2015.

Enda Kenny stressed that he will support the referendum’s passage and campaign for it but said that the single biggest issue for him is “jobs and employment”.

Eamon Gilmore has previously said that “the right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation and, in my opinion, its time has come” with the Cabinet agreeing in November to a recommendation from the Constitutional Convention to hold a referendum.

Several Cabinet ministers, including Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Alan Shatter, have publicly come out in favour of legalising marriage between same-sex couples.

The Taoiseach’s refusal to state what his position was caused some controversy in the summer of 2012 and though he has now committed to supporting a referendum when it is held he has not specifically outlined his beliefs on the issue.

“I wouldn’t have the same opinion as the Tánaiste, don’t get me wrong on that now, I support it and will canvass for it when it comes,” Kenny said.

“But for me, the single biggest issue is our jobs and employment. This is what politics is about, this is about motivating people, about opening doors of opportunity, about sorting out the problems that are there.”

Though it is pencilled in for early 2015, the Taoiseach is less certain, saying that a date is not decided and that the referendum could be part of a series of votes held on one day dealing with recommendations from the Constitutional Convention.

Kenny also acknowledged possible difficulties within his own party on the issue of rights for same-sex couples when asked if he believed a bill parents in a same-sex relationship would be supported by all in the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

“It’s a matter for debate and discussion,” he said. “Obviously the Fine Gael party has a very broad range on any piece of legislation. People are entitled to have their own views of course.”

The Taoiseach added that for him “my politics, the big thing, is getting our country back to work. Everything flows from that”.

Read: First poll finds large majority in favour of same sex marriage

Read: Same-sex marriage vote to be one of a number of referendums to be held in 2015

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