Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny faces a revolt within his own Fine Gael party over plans to hold a gay marriage referendum.
Kenny had committed to putting a vote on same sex weddings to the people after pressure from his Coalition partners in the Labour Party.
The junior coalition partners want the vote held before the current government leaves office.
But Fine Gael activists are opposed to the plan and some who believe the public are suffering from referendum fatigue are to fight the proposed vote, according to the Sunday Independent.
The paper says the government will decide this week whether or not to hold a referendum with several Fine Gael TDs, a mix of both liberals and conservatives, adamant the public doesn’t want any more referendums.
Labour Party leader and deputy PM Eamon Gilmore wants to hold the gay marriage referendum in autumn 2014 or in spring 2015.
But one Fine Gael minister told the paper: “The people gave us a kick up the backside in two referendums, so we won’t be hurrying back for a third one.”
A Labour minister also expressed concern that: “There is a possibility, even if the opinion polls say that 99 per cent of the people support it, that a referendum will be lost; we have plenty of history there.”
The report says a number of rural deputies, including John O’Mahony from Mayo and Tony McLoughlin from Sligo-North Leitrim, are believed to have ‘concerns’ about recognising same-sex marriage.
After losing the recent abortion referendum, Fine Gael backbenchers say voters want the focus firmly to be kept on the economy.
One Fine Gael deputy told the paper: “The whole constitutional convention and gay marriage is a ball of smoke. No one gives a rattling about this.”
Another said: “The issue is not like abortion as that was a fundamental issue, a pledge - no one has been speaking about this.”
Another young Fine Gael deputy told the Sunday Independent: “I know of no young TD who is opposed to this referendum but this could easily be lost. We’ve had five referenda already. The voters are saying that’s enough, go off and do your job. If we come back with what looks like a sideshow, they could turn on it or not turn out.”
A party source added: “Most Fine Gael TDs simply don’t want to get involved, they have no feelings on it one way or another, but there is the concern they will stir up their conservative votes.
“What is leaking out from the Cabinet is that they have had enough of referenda too. They’re trying to avoid it as well; the line from Cabinet is another referendum could well be lost.”
Labour deputy Kevin Humphreys said: “The main problem with Fine Gael is not that the party is opposed to gay marriage but that they are referendum fatigued.
“I want this dealt with in the current term of government; it shouldn’t be left over.”