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Dublin: 18°C Monday 26 July 2021

Marriage referendum posters are technically allowed to say anything...

Do some cross a line?

A pro 'yes' vote mural by Jess Tobin on South Richmond street in Dublin.
A pro 'yes' vote mural by Jess Tobin on South Richmond street in Dublin.
Image: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE REFERENDUM COMMISSION has said ’yes’ and ‘no’ campaigners don’t have to answer to anyone about the content of posters they distribute in the run up to the same-sex marriage referendum.

The organisation said the content of posters on both sides is entirely “up to the individual group” who makes them, adding: “We have no function in relation to the posters.”

If someone has a complaint to make about a poster, they may contact the referendum commission. However, their primary function is to explain the wording on the ballot paper and encourage people to register to vote.

A spokesperson for the commission could not confirm how many complaints they have received about posters but said they have been “on the increase over the last few days”.

Some people have different opinions as to what this referendum is about and they’re debating it.

Gráinne Healy, Yes Equality spokesperson, said the organisation’s posters aim to be engaging and informative.

Healy said the purpose of a “lamppost poster” is to be clear, so that people can walk or drive by it and “know why they are being asked to vote yes”.

She noted that a ‘yes’ billboard launched last week focuses on “the values that will inform how people vote … love, equality, inclusion and fairness”.

10818447_1609618352603580_6099104936434770311_o Source: Yes Equality

Keith Mills, a spokesperson for Mothers and Fathers Matter, said the group – who is campaigning for a ‘no’ vote – has consulted “a legal expert” to ensure its posters are accurate.

He said the group is not required to do this but have chosen to “for the sake of completeness”.

In recent days, a number of people have complained to the organisation about the inclusion of information about surrogacy on some of their posters.

10849094_838431856229525_4117601939768223177_o Source: Mothers and Fathers Matter

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Mills said people who think surrogacy is not a linked issue “don’t understand the full implications of what the referendum will do”.

Not only will the referendum redefine marriage, it will redefine the family.

Mills described Twitter criticism as “just a bit of whinging from people who have the ‘Yes Equality’ twibbon on their pages”.

He said some people “don’t like a robust debate”, but that’s what is needed in the coming weeks.

“It’s very important that everyone in any referendum is very honest and truthful. We hope the ‘yes’ side will stick to that,” Mills added.

11164621_838431712896206_3927062653620684379_o Source: Mothers and Fathers Matter

Healy said ‘no’ campaigners “can put whatever they like up on the posters”, adding:

The electorate are informed and can look at a poster and see whether or not it is speaking about what the referendum is actually about.

“We want to keep the debate to the core issues: to enable same-sex couples to get married and have their relationship protected by the constitution,” Healy stated.

Read: No group says presence of gardaí at a Yes event has ‘fractured’ its neutrality

Read: Marian Finucane using “stopwatches” to ensure balance on marriage referendum debates

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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