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This father is voting NO, his daughter is voting YES. Watch them debate.

Fathers and Daughters Natter: TheJournal.ie got Bill and Aoibhinn Tormey to debate the issues in a special marriage referendum debate.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE has divided Irish people, something which has become ever more apparent as the referendum campaign has progressed over the last few weeks.

It’s also dividing families up and down the country, like the Tormeys. Dr Bill Tormey is a former Fine Gael councillor and prominent media commentator on health issues. His outspoken views have landed him in trouble in the past.

Tormey vs Tormey

His daughter, Aoibhinn, who works in the mental health area, is a prominent member of Young Fine Gael who recently, unsuccessfully, contested the party’s eventful Dublin Bay North selection convention.

Bill is dedicated to helping advance his daughter’s fledgling political career, but one area where they don’t agree is same-sex marriage. While Aoibhinn is passionately campaigning for a Yes vote, Bill believes the whole idea is “insane”.

The two even had it out on Twitter recently:

Tweet by @Aoibhinn Tormey Source: Aoibhinn Tormey/Twitter

On foot of this, TheJournal.ie decided to invite the father and daughter in for a debate on the issues and to talk about what it’s like to be a family divided…

1. “This referendum is about propaganda.” 

In part one, the Tormeys discuss whether the referendum is really just about equality and the issues arising out of the recently-passed Children and Family Relationships Bill.

Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

“We’re all different, but we all need to be equal in the Constitution,” Aoibhinn argues.

So, Bill, isn’t referendum just about equality? No, he says:

“That is a complete lie. This referendum is about propaganda.”

Unsurprisingly, Aoibhinn does not agree:

Aoibhinn roll eyes

Later, her father raises a particular court case, to which Aoibhinn has this reply:

Dad, in that case that was about a conjugal visit about procreating children. That doesn’t apply to gay couples because no matter how many times you put them on a conjugal visit it’s not going to result in a child.

2. “He’s just ranting about irrelevant issues.” 

In part 2, we talk about surrogacy – an issue that has been brought into the referendum debate quite a lot in recent weeks.

Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

Aoibhinn argues that it shouldn’t be, and says of her Dad’s views:

He’s just ranting about irrelevant issues.


Bill also discusses his controversial comments about homosexuality being a “biological disadvantage”.

The bottom line is, of course by definition, being homosexual exclusively is a biological disadvantage to the holder, because one of the fundamental objectives of the animal kingdom is reproduction of the species.

3. “I just don’t believe in participating in a farce.” 

In part 3, we get personal and discuss the implications of this referendum on the Tormey family.  Aoibhinn told us beforehand that her mother will probably vote No, while her two brothers are likely to vote Yes.

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Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

We ask Bill about a hypothetical situation where one of his children is gay. He states clearly:

If one of my children was homosexual it wouldn’t bother me.

But what if they decided to get married, something he is fundamentally against? Would he go to his own daughter or son’s wedding ceremony? Watch the above clip.


4. Why you should vote Yes/Why you should vote No

Finally, before the debate got under way we asked both Bill and Aoibhinn to outline, in a minute, their arguments for and against the passing of Friday’s referendum.

They both took a little longer than we asked, but it’s worth a watch:

Source: Nicky Ryan/YouTube

Video and sound: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

So, who won? Let us know in the comments? 

This video was first published at 20.15 on 19 May 2015.

Watch: What are the economics of same-sex marriage?

Read: Just how close is the same-sex marriage referendum?

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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