Politicians call for ‘calm’ debate on gay marriage

Senators and TDs told The Irish Catholic this week that the debate on gay marriage needs to be more reasoned

Politicians have issued calls for a more calm and measured debate on same sex marriage amid widespread hysteria ahead of next year’s referendum on the controversial issue.

Senators and TDs told The Irish Catholic this week that the debate on gay marriage needs to be more reasoned, with people on both sides allowed to have their opinions heard without fear of being demonised.

The calls come after drag artist Rory O’Neill alleged that members of The Iona Institute and other Catholic commentators were homophobic while being interviewed last month on RTE’s Saturday Night Show.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic this week, Independent TD Terence Flanagan, who lost the Fine Gael parliamentarywhip for votingagainst the Government’s abortion legislation called for “a calm, rational debate” on gay marriage.  

“There is too much hysteria and emotion around the issue at present. We live in a mature democracy where everyone's viewpoint should be listened to and respected,” he said.

Also speaking to this newspaper, Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh warned against any attempt to shut down debate on same sex marriage ahead of next year’s proposed referendum.

“There seems to be an attempt early on in this debate to close down any dissenting voices. It is important that people who hold certain views do not allow themselves to be shut out of the debate and I would encourage them to continue to put their views forward.

“The debate should be tolerant and one that examines in depth the ramifications for what is a significant exercise in social re-engineering,” he said.

Similarly, Fianna Fáil Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú told this paper he was “shocked” to hear of some people being demonised for holding certain views.

“To intimidate people into silence is not the way to go in this debate, it’s just not acceptable. We need to get back to a genuine, sincere and authentic debate about this issue as it is an important one,” he said.

Fine Gael’s Denis Naughten echoed calls for a calm and measured debate on the issue “to ensure whatever decision is taken is in the best interest of the country as a whole”, while Independent TD Mattie McGrath warned that gay marriage is a “delicate issue” and people’s views need to be respected.

Meanwhile, Independent Senator Paul Bradford reiterated that “all political debates be conducted with respect and good measure”.