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Enda has pretty much ruled out a live TV debate with the No side

Kenny said the issue is not a party political one.

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

ENDA KENNY HAS effectively ruled out a TV debate with the No side in the same-sex marriage referendum campaign.

The Taoiseach said he had no intention of turning the referendum into a “party political debate” at the launch of Fine Gael’s campaign for a Yes vote in Dublin today.

Mothers and Fathers Matter, a group on the No side of next month’s referendum, has challenged Kenny to go head-to-head in a debate.

Keith Mills said the group would be happy to debate Kenny and said in a statement earlier: “The only question that remains is whether Mr. Kenny is a man of his word – for if he is not, why does anything else he says on this issue matter today?”

But speaking to the media at the event in the Gaiety this morning, Kenny said:

I’ve no intention of turning it into a party political debate. It’s not that kind of referendum.

When pressed on the issue, Kenny said he was “all for” discussing the issues as part of the campaign, but said that there is no political party opposed to the measure. He added:

What the No side are doing is they are deliberately involving issues which they know are not central to the question. The question is about civil marriage, it’s about giving equality to people all over the country.

The Taoiseach’s comments today contrast with his position last December when he told journalists in a pre-Christmas briefing that he would be willing to take part in debates on the issue.

Responding to Kenny’s comments today, Mothers and Fathers matter said:

Evidently, in the intervening period, someone in Government buildings has decided that the leader of the country can’t be trusted to defend his own ideas when challenged.

Kenny said Fine Gael has a campaign and will be engaging with the public on the issues in the coming weeks.

In a passionate and heartfelt speech at the campaign launch today, Kenny recounted his own personal journey on the issue, and said that a Yes vote on 22 May could be “the making of us as a nation”.

- with reporting from Órla Ryan 

Read:  ‘There isn’t a celebrity in the country who would dare come out and say they’re voting No’

Read: “The No side seem fixated on the notion of the ‘ideal family’ – whatever that means”

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Hugh O'Connell

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