Irish leader Enda Kenny has point blank refused to say whether he supports gay marriage or not, despite a majority of his cabinet expressing their support. He stated it was a matter for the upcoming constitutional convention to decide how to proceed.
Kenny angrily stated he would not be pressurized into a “box-ticking exercise” after he came under attack from opposition members to announce his position.
“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 the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during Leaders’ Questions.
Kenny, considered a liberal Catholic, surprised many with his hands off approach.
The issue has been very prominent after the Deputy Leader and Labour Party head Eamon Gilmore’s comments that gay marriage was the “civil rights issue of this generation”. Irish Education Minister Ruairi Quinn also described the introduction of gay marriage equality as the 'next step' for Ireland this week.
Quinn told Newstalk Radio that the Irish Labour Party has always supported full equality for gays. But Quinn says that the decision must be made by the Irish through a referendum, with reassurances given that to introduce it will not affect or undermine heterosexual marriage.
Meanwhile, Cork City Council became the first local authority in the Republic to officially support gay marriage, after unanimously passing a motion in favor of it on Monday.
The motion in support of gay marriage equality gained an important backer in the Irish Cabinet, with Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar expressing his cautious support this week.
The Cork council vote was put forward by Sinn Fein councillor Michael Nugent, who told The Journal that gay marriage is 'an essential part of an equality agenda.'
'I’m very happy that Cork City Council has taken the lead on this, and I hope it has sent out a signal to people in the gay and lesbian communities in Cork city and further afield that the struggle is ongoing for recognition and equality in society,' Councilor Nugent added. 'I hope this is a step in that struggle.'
Nugent said that the introduction of civil partnerships were 'a significant move' but that there were 'major differences' between the partnerships and full marriage.
The council measure followed a similar motion passed by Belfast City Council last week. However, unionist councillors walked out before the Belfast vote and most representatives of the Alliance party abstained, the Belfast Telegraph reported.