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Senator: I don't think it's appropriate to teach children about same-sex marriage

The No side has dismissed claims they’re using “dirty tactics”.

Updated: 19.17

INDEPENDENT SENATOR FIDELMA Healy Eames has dismissed claims the No side is using children and surrogacy as “dirty tactics” in the marriage referendum debate.

Earlier today Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power said the referendum commission has made it perfectly clear issues such as surrogacy and assisted human reproduction are separate to the question being asked of voters on Friday.

“The referendum is about one thing and one thing only, which is the right to marry and whether all couples regardless of their gender should have the right to marry,” Power said.

She claimed the No side has engaged in a “deliberate and cynical attempt to frighten people, to confuse them and to win a No vote just through just really dirty tactics”, adding it is “very unfair to people”.

Healy Eames said Power’s comments were “outrageous”.

It’s actually quite frankly an insult to gay couples to be saying it’s just about marriage and it’s not about children. Many gay couples may wish to have children. You can’t have it every way.

Healy Eames also questioned whether it is appropriate to teach young children about same-sex marriage, something she said may be required if the referendum is passed.

Is it appropriate to expose children as young as 4 and 5 to this type of language and behaviour? I don’t know, I don’t think so.

She was speaking at a press conference held by Mothers and Fathers Matter.

At the same event, Dr Tom Finegan said it was “utterly ridiculous” to claim children won’t be affected if the referendum is passed, noting: they have been “brought into debate by very virtue of the proposal itself”.

The head of the Referendum Commission, Justice Kevin Cross, has repeatedly said the passing of the referendum will not give a same-sex married couple or any married couple a constitutional right to procreate.

Changed her mind

Healy Eames said that if she was asked how she was voting six months ago, she would have said Yes, noting: “I’ve always believed in equality, I believe in love, I believe in live and let live.”

If I thought a child of mine was not being treated equally I would move heaven and earth to try and fix that.

However, she said she is voting No because the proposal has not been properly thought through and would be very “almost impossible” to reverse.

Healy Eames said the fact she was the only woman in the Oireachtas to tell TheJournal.ie they are voting No in a recent survey on same-sex marriage say is “absolutely incredible”.

Something is wrong. This, I think, is at some level political correctness gone mad. It’s populism, but it certainly isn’t thought through.

Power, meanwhile, described Friday as “an incredibly historic opportunity for Ireland” to vote Yes in “an act of love and solidarity with gay and lesbian citizens all over the country” and send “a really positive message to gay and lesbian people of all ages”.

She added that she was “disappointed” by party colleague John McGuinness telling the Irish Times he intends to vote No.

Niall Collins said McGuinness didn’t break any rules by expressing his opinion, but noted that most of the party would disagree with his stance.

“I don’t think it’s representative of out members,” Power said, encouraging people to “step up efforts to get it over the line”.

There has been a HUGE surge in voter registration

Mary McAleese says “the only children affected by this referendum will be Ireland’s gay children”

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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