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Journalist says that 'homosexuality was never a crime in Ireland'

Bruce Arnold has spoken out against former President Mary McAleese taking a position in the same-sex marriage referendum.

Bruce Arnold (File Photo)
Bruce Arnold (File Photo)
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

JOURNALIST AND NO vote campaigner Bruce Arnold has said that homosexuality was never a crime in Ireland.

He was appearing on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme as part of a debate with leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, when he made the claim.

In a discussion on whether or not former President Mary McAleese had been correct in coming out in support of a Yes vote in Friday’s same-sex marriage referendum, Arnold said that she had certain obligations as a former head of State.

Statement

On the issue of same-sex marriage, Arnold said that, “when I first arrived in Ireland sixty years ago, homosexuality was not penalised, it was not illegal. Homosexuals lived a reasonably open and happy life.”

I remember particularly Micheál Mac Liammóir and Hilton Edwards strutting through St Stephen’s Green, hugely admired and known as a gay couple.

“During the period since then, largely by invention, a penalised, unhappy, disfavoured, disadvantaged interpretation of homosexual couples has been developed.

“And it is not either consistent with the truth or consistent with the law. Several people have repeatedly said homosexuality was illegal and was decriminalised by Máire Geoghegan Quinn in 1993,” he said.

This simply isn’t true. Homosexuality was never a crime in Ireland. Homosexual acts were, and through David Norris’s work with Mary Robinson in Europe the edict was really created that made the government here reluctantly, and with disagreement, decriminalise homosexual acts.

Mary McAleese taking a stand 

He said that as an “officer of the State”, former President McAleese had certain obligations and that she should not have spoken out in favour of a Yes vote.

“She has been the head of State. And it is convention followed by heads of State all through the years that they do not speak out after their term ends. Any matter that affects the public,” he said.

In response to this, leader of  Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, said, “I didn’t vote and support Mary McAleese to be President of Ireland, as a member of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, for her to forever be silent in the aftermath of her becoming President. 

The idea that we would silence a woman of the passion and intellect of Mary McAleese, and who has precious insights into what it means to rear a gay child – and from a Catholic perspective – I think it is quite absurd.

Read: A power interruption from Enda – as Fine Gael picks the WRONG day to canvass Luas passengers

Also: The answers to your questions ahead of the same-sex marriage referendum

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