We’re lucky to have the right to vote

Dear Editor, Dr Martin Mansergh’s excellent article (IC 30/04/2015) highlighted the importance of the people’s right to be consulted on all matters requiring constitutional change. Irish citizens are indeed fortunate to have a Constitution that requires such consultation.

This point is reinforced if we reflect on the recent French experience. In France, a substantial grassroots effort has been taking place to protect marriage between a man and a woman, as it has been traditionally understood and safeguarded. There was a large-scale mobilisation of civil society against same-sex marriage on five occasions between November 2012 and May 2013. According to the organisers in La Manif Pour Tous, well over one million people marched in Paris in the biggest demonstration in March 2013.

However, the French people were not given the opportunity to vote by referendum on same-sex marriage. Their Socialist Government held a comfortable parliamentary majority and simply chose to ignore the huge demonstrations of popular opinion in 2012 and 2013. The fact that the Irish do have the right to be consulted by referendum on this question reinforces the argument recently made by the Irish Catholic bishops – that is, that Irish electors should reflect very carefully on the issues arising in this referendum and use their vote wisely. 

Yours etc.,

Tim O’Sullivan,

Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.