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Gay Marriage

Taoiseach won't be 'pressurised into box-ticking exercise' on gay marriage stance

Enda Kenny declined to express a personal view on whether or not he supports gay marriage during heated exchanges in the Dáil today insisting it was a matter for the Constitutional Convention.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said he will not be pressured into a “box-ticking exercise” in response to questions about whether or not he supports the introduction of gay marriage in Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil today the Fine Gael leader said that issue, which has recently had support from a number of government ministers, was a matter for the upcoming Constitutional Convention and twice declined to express a view on whether or not he was in favour of same-sex couples marrying.

“You’re not going to pressurise both me as a citizen or as a leader of government into a box-ticking exercise here to say: ‘line them up now’ because I speak from this seat as government,” he told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during Leaders’ Questions.

During heated exchanges which saw a number of government backbenchers shouting across the chamber, Kenny would not be drawn on expressing his personal view on the matter.

The issue has been prominent in recent weeks following the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s comments that gay marriage was the “civil rights issue of this generation”.

A number of other ministers including Alan Shatter, Brian Hayes and Leo Varadkar have spoken out in favour of gay marriage but cautioned of the need for a referendum to amend the constitution.

The matter is likely to be considered by the government-appointed Constitutional Convention, plans for which are being put before the Dáil today.

Watch the full exchange between Micheál Martin and the Taoiseach in the Dáil today (via


‘Civil rights issue’

Kenny said: “The process set out for government, for whom I speak and for which I speak, is that the convention will reflect on the question of same-sex marriage, give its recommendation to government and government will respond to that in respect of holding a referendum or not within a four month period.

“And if the answer to that question be yes then the government will set out a timescale of when it would intend to hold  a referendum.”

In response, Martin said that he did not need a “random selection of citizens” to determine whether or not he was in favour of same-sex marriage as was the case for the Tánaiste.

“Governments have to lead on these fundamental issues,” he said adding that if it was a civil rights issue then referring it to the convention opened up a possibility of there never being a referendum on gay marriage in the lifetime of the current government.

Enda Kenny said that his party was the first party to bring in civil partnerships which they were “very happy to support” and indicated that it was not appropriate for Martin to ask him his personal view on an issue that concerned the changing of the constitution.

“If you think you can just stand up and say: ‘What’s your view on this?’… This is the constitution we’re talking about and it is a matter for each individual citizen,” the Taoiseach said.

“And the process that we have set in train for this government is to take a number of these important issues that were never dealt with by your crowd and say: ‘This Constitutional Convention will reflect on each of these issues, will bring a view to government and government will respond.’”

Read: Cork city council passes landmark motion in support of gay marriage

Read: Hayes supports same-sex marriage, defends Taoiseach’s silence

Read: Gay marriage: Shatter joins Gilmore in support

Read: Eamon Gilmore: “The time has come on gay marriage”

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