A controversial Northern Ireland pastor called a new tourism initiative advertising the Republic of Ireland as a marriage destination for same-sex couples as “crass.”
The Free Presbyterian Minister, Rev. David McIlveen, stated that there was no justification for taxpayer’s money being used to fund the new Tourism Ireland [a cross-border organization] campaign, established just days after Ireland’s historic “yes” vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.
Tourism Ireland unveiled the “Ireland says I do” campaign to nine tourism markets worldwide this week, although they admitted that they had been working in anticipation of a “yes” vote before this.
Rev. McIlveen told the Belfast Telegraph that it was "very disingenuous for Tourism Ireland to seek to capitalize on the vote in the Republic of Ireland."
"Many people will feel very aggrieved that money from Northern Ireland is being spent on this type of campaign and I believe there is no justification whatever for this investment."
"Not only are they exploiting something for monetary gain, they are also promoting something that isn't even legal in Northern Ireland," he adds.
Speaking on the campaign, Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said, "Ireland is in the international spotlight and trending for all the right reasons across social and international media. It's not often you get a blast of publicity like that."
Northern Ireland has come under increasing pressure in the past few days since the Republic of Ireland voted “yes” to the allowance of same-sex marriage within its Constitution. Northern Ireland is now the only Western country in which same-sex is completely banned and LGBT campaigners, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions,and Amnesty International will hold a mass rally on June 13 to put pressure on NI politicians to legislate as in the south.
It is believed that border towns, such as Dundalk, could become the Irish equivalent of Gretna Green in Scotland -- a Scottish-English border town where young couples would elope to take advantage of Scotland’s lower marriage age limit.
It is thought that gay couples from Northern Ireland could make the short trek south of the border to avail of the privileges afforded them there that they can’t get in the six counties.
Dundalk Chamber of Commerce public relations officer, Paddy Malone, said, "Gay people from Northern Ireland have already told us they're thinking of coming here to get married so we're expecting it to be good for business."
Controversial pastor McIlveen has remained vocal on his thoughts on homosexuality and abortion. “I don't feel any stronger about homosexuality than I do adultery,” he says. “Both are described in the Bible as an abomination. Homosexuality is unnatural. We are created in a very specific way, male and female. Biologically we are not created homosexual, we are created heterosexual.”
He also cites former DUP Ian Paisley as a massive influence on his life and previously told the Belfast Telegraph that he did not believe Dr. Paisley was treated with the dignity and respect that he deserved.
“In Dr. Paisley's case he should have been treated with the utmost respect,” he states. “He should have been considered with great dignity and I think that, in hindsight, was missing.
Despite the historic result last Saturday, is it wrong of Tourism Ireland to use taxpayers money on a campaign citing the Republic of Ireland as a wedding locations for same-sex couple’s. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.