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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 29 November, 2014

Shatter says it may be best to keep 2014 a “referendum free year”

The Justice Minister has indicated the vote on gay marriage may be delayed until early 2015.

Image: Justice Minister Alan Shatter - Photocall Ireland

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has said he suspects the Irish public may be suffering from “referendum fatigue,” in the wake of the recent votes on the Seanad and the Court of Appeal.

The Cabinet is expected to make a decision tomorrow on the date for a referendum on extending full marriage rights to gay couples, following a recommendation from the Constitutional Convention.

But while Labour has been pushing for a vote next year, Fine Gael appears less keen to put the issue on the Government agenda in the wake of the rejection of the proposal to scrap the Seanad, and the divisive Oireachtas vote on the abortion bill during the summer.

Speaking to reporters today, Minister Shatter said he felt it was unlikely another referendum would be held before 2015.

“I suspect the general public are suffering from referendum fatigue,” Shatter said.

“Having been in the Dáil for many years, I can’t recall so many referenda taking place within such a short space of time on so many very important issues

“It may well be the case that 2014 is a referendum free year, and that if we have further referenda take place possibly they should be in 2015.”

The Constitutional Convention voted back in April to recommend a change in the Constitution to allow for civil marriages for same-sex couples.

As part of the process, it’s up to the Government to decide whether the issue should be put before the people.

Speaking last Wednesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the coalition’s response was due this week and would be provided on time.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has suggested that the vote could be held on the same day as the Local and European elections next year in order to ensure that a “substantial number of people would come out to vote”.

Speaking last month, Tánaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said it would happen before the end of the current Government, and described the topic as the “civil rights issue of this generation”.

While Shatter, Varadkar and other Fine Gael ministers have said they are in favour of same-sex couples marrying, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has so far not given his personal view.

Read: Dublin business owner in storm over gay cake-topper row

Read: Pope Francis: We don’t need to talk about abortion, gay marriage and contraception ‘all the time’

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