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'A load of nonsense': Leo dismisses claim that most TDs will vote No

The agriculture minister reckons Ireland is ready for same-sex marriage.

Updated 1.40pm 

FINE GAEL MINISTERS have dismissed the suggestion from Senator Ronan Mullen that  most TDs will vote No in the same-sex marriage referendum.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie yesterday, Mullen said he would guess that most politicians would not support the referendum on 22 May.

Source: Video: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

But speaking to reporters at a Siptu event in Dublin today, Health Minister Leo Varadkar described such suggestions as “a load of nonsense”.

I don’t agree with that at all. I think that’s a load of nonsense. I’ve been particularly talking to some of my colleagues around the country who’ve been speaking at branch meetings in very rural constituencies.

“They’re actually surprised and overwhelmed at the very strong support for a Yes vote from party members across the country, and in rural areas in particular.”

2776 Leo Leo Varadkar at the Royal College of Physicians today Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Earlier, Varakar’s Fine Gael colleague, the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Mullen was incorrect with his claims:

I think he’s wrong, I can only speak for Fine Gael but between public meetings and speaking with my own colleagues I can tell you, we are strongly behind this.

When challenged further that many Fine Gael TDs are wary of losing their core vote over this most divisive of subjects, Coveney stressed that was ‘not reflective’ of the majority within Fine Gael.

This is our chance as a party to show we’re more than just about social structures and the economy.  This can show we are about important social change.

coveney Simon Coveney Source: Sam Boal/Photocall

Coveney said he believes Ireland is ready to take a giant step in ratifying same-sex marriage in May’s referendum.

The Cork South-Central TD admitted that the subject is one on which he has changed his own mind in recent times, and that he hopes Irish people can ‘travel the journey I’ve travelled’.

“This is about modernisation and change, important social change that I believe a more tolerant Ireland is now ready for,” he said.

Look, this is something I’ve actually changed my own mind on in the last ten years.
If we believe that marriage is good and healthy for heterosexual couples, well then I believe it is good for gay couples also.

The referendum takes place on Friday, 22 May.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

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