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Gay adoption law will be in place before marriage equality 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 Government has pledged to enact legislation providing for gay couples to adopt ahead of the same-sex marriage referendum in May. Gay people can currently apply to adopt individually.

LGBT Protests for Marriage Rights Feargha Clear Keena and Chloe Sedgwick from Dublin at a marriage equality march last year. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A spotlight was thrown on to the issue once again this week following a debate on same-sex marriage on Claire Byrne Live. The discussion veered into several distinct but related areas such as adoption and IVF.

The coalition will be finalising the wording of the Marriage Equality Bill today. After yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, it was confirmed that the Children and Family Relationships Bill – which covers several issues including gay adoption – will be published next month.

Alan Shatter, then Justice Minister, published the first draft of the Bill in January 2014, before a revised version was outlined by his successor Frances Fitzgerald last September.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, welcomed the news.

Shannon said the new legislation “brings a diverse range of family types in from the cold” by “updating five decades of law”. The Bill will enable civil partners and cohabiting couples to jointly apply to adopt, and extend guardianship options for non-biological parents and grandparents.

The decision by the Government to enact the legislation before the marriage equality vote is the first major political move by the coalition in what’s sure to be four months of intense debate.

Earlier this week, we asked our readers how they intend to vote in May: 78% said ‘Yes’, in line with other opinion polls.

poll me ref

All the major parties support a ‘yes’ vote and will have to campaign heavily to stop complacency among voters and ensure the Bill passes.

The agenda

  • The Cabinet is meeting this morning, to discuss May’s two referenda: marriage equality and lowering the age at which a person can run for president.

  • Afterwards, the Taoiseach will be flying to Davos for the World Economic Forum.
  • Alan Kelly will be covering a lot of ground today. The Environment Minister is due in Galway at 10.45am, where he’ll be announcing Local Government Reforms at City Hall. Then he’ll be heading to Longford to open the New Fire Station in Lanesborough at 2pm.
  • Leo Varadkar will be taking questions related to the department of health at 9.30am in the Dáil. At 3pm the minister will launch the National Community First Responder Network in Dublin.
  • The Banking Inquiry Committee is sitting again today – with Klaus Regling (9.30am) and Professor Philip Lane set to appear (11.45am).
  • It’s a busy day for several other committees, with the Justice Committee debating a review of firearms licensing (10am and 2.30pm), the Transport Committee discussing petrol stretching at 11.15am, and the Public Oversight Committee debating state pensions (4pm).
  • The mother-and-baby homes investigation will take centre stage in the Dáil at 10.45am and again shortly after 2.39pm.
  • Changes to the Junior Certificate will be debated for a second day during Private Members Business at 7pm, ahead of tomorrow’s proposed strike action by second level teachers.
  • The Seanad will discuss the Gender Recognition Bill at 1.15pm, early years education at 3pm and water services at 5pm.  

Inside Leinster House

The buzz among the independent TDs is all centred on Shane Ross’s new political alliance, with Finian McGrath also a prominent figure in the nascent movement. There’s talk of what positions they’re eyeing up in cabinet after the next election if the alliance ends up striking a deal with a bigger party. This prompted one mischievous senator passing McGrath in the corridor the other day to shout loudly: “There’s the next Tánaiste!”

What the others are saying

  • Tánaiste Joan Burton is facing pressure from her Labour colleagues for allowing the junior coalition party to be “completely out-muscled” by Fine Gael, according to the Irish Independent.
  • The same paper reports that male Fine Gael TDs have been assured they can run in the next election, despite the introduction of gender quotas.
  • The Irish Examiner reports that Gerry Adams has urged Enda Kenny to reconsider the idea of a conference to re-examine European bailout debts.
  • Several papers report that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told the Government 21 publicly-run nursing homes risk closure due to a lack of investment. 

In case you missed it

Source: ABC News/YouTube

  • Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said Labour’s Eric Byrne has not apologised to him over remarks made in the Dáil last week about his homeless brother.
  • A Fine Gael councillor apologised for using a certain f-word on Twitter (it might not be the one you’re thinking of).
  • Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Hanafin has declined to confirm whether or not she supports marriage equality
  • The mother of a six-year-old boy who died after being knocked down outside his home last June is planning a three night sleep-out protest over speed limits outside Leinster House.

On the Twitter machine

Not everyone is happy with certain elements of the Children and Family Relationships Bill.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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