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State of the Nation

Will new family law impact same-sex marriage vote?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everybody’s talking about…

The Children and Family Relationships Bill.

Gay Marriages in Ireland Nicholas Nelson and Thomas Cahalan were the second male couple to enter into a civil partnership in Ireland in 2011. Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The new legislation, which will be published on Thursday, has been broadly welcomed by political parties and children’s rights groups. It seeks to extends guardianship, custody and adoption rights to different types of families – including same-sex couples.

Leo Varadkar was among those to state the bill and May’s Marriage Equality Referendum are two separate issues.

Speaking on Claire Byrne Live, the Health Minister said that the new law and the upcoming bill on surrogacy are “about children in the main”.

Most of the people who avail of assisted human reproduction or surrogacy, or most of the people who are in the family courts, are actually heterosexual couples. So to try and turn that into some sort of same sex or gay issue I think is wrong.

Not everyone agrees, however.

Mothers and Fathers Matter has said the bill “would promote arrangements where children are intentionally denied either a mother or a father”.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said this isn’t the case, stating that the new law “acknowledges just how much family life has changed in recent decades”.

Minister Fitzgerald. Pictured Minister Frances Fitzgerald pictured as she outlined details of the bill yesterday. Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The Government hopes to pass the bill by 24 March, just weeks before the same-sex marriage referendum – leading many to conflate the two.

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, who advised the government while the bill was being drafted, told Morning Ireland family law hasn’t been significantly updated in decades.

She said the Oireachtas can enact the legislation “irrespective of any referendum”, describing it and the same-sex marriage vote as two complex and separate issues regarding family.

Bill or no bill, it’s clear there’s a long road of campaigning ahead for both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides. Will it impact how you vote in May?

The agenda

  • Simon Coveney will be answering questions related to the Department of Defence at 9.30am.
  • TDs aer set to discuss the Magdalene Laundries redress bill at 10.45am and again at 2.39pm.
  • Hearings at the banking inquiry continue today, with Marco Buti, Director General for Economic and Financial Affairs at the European Commission, appearing at 11.30am. Dr Donal Donovan, former Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund will meet the committee at 1.45pm.
  • Leaders’ Questions will see Enda Kenny in the opposition’s firing line at 12pm.
  • The Social Protection Committee will discuss changes to the one-parent family payment at 1pm.
  • Senators will focus on two pieces of legislation today: one to regulate betting (1.15pm) and another on identity rights for adopted people (4pm).
  • Gangland crime will be debated by the Justice Committee at 2.30pm.
  • US military use of Shannon airport will come under the spotlight of the Public Service Committee at 4pm.
  • A Sinn Féin-proposed bill to reduce speed limit in housing estates following the tragic death of Jake Brennan will be discussed at 7.30pm.

Inside Leinster House

Leaders’ Questions can often be a rather predictable affair, but the language used was rather interesting yesterday.

There was “claptrap” and an Alice in Wonderland reference, before Enda Kenny took a pop at Gerry Adams’ penchant for trampolining.

All in a day’s work in the Dáil.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Independent reports on how several ministers lobbied to get their advisers bigger salaries, above the caps proposed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. 
  • Several papers note that the Employment Appeals Tribunal found Fine Gael TD Seán Conlon had repeatedly breached the rights of his ex-assistant. 
  • Former banker and HSE board member Donal de Buitléir will head the Government’s new Low Pay Commission, according to the Irish Times

In case you missed it

  • Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed that about 45,000 people have had the household charge deducted from their wages. 
  • James Reilly is adamant plain cigarette packets will be in shops in 2017, despite the threat of legal action from a tobacco giant.

  • Finian McGrath told us why Shane Ross’ new nickname is Fidel.
  • Roseanne Brennan continued her sleep-out protest outside Leinster House. She wants speed limits in housing estates reduced to 20km per hour, following her son Jake’s tragic death.
  • A Sinn Féin MEP is going to speak Irish only in Brussels during Seachtain na Gaeilge.

On the Tweet machine

We can sleep easy now.

Originally published: 9am

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