Justin McAleese, the only son of former President Mary McAleese, revealed to the Irish Independent that he came out as gay to his family and friends nine years ago.

Justin, who is Head of Investor Relations at Ryanair, is active in the campaign for same-sex marriage. He serves as joint coordinator of the Yes Equality campaign for the Dublin Bay South constituency, and he’s had several letters on the referendum published in national newspapers. 

In his article for the Irish Independent, the 30-year-old McAleese said he was “on the verge of coming out” in 2005 when friends started laughing and joking about the highly-publicized same-sex marriage of former Unionist political advisor Steven King to his partner in Canada.

He says this was followed by comments by Ian Paisley Jr, which he says were not challenged.

"So I stayed in the closet for another 18 months. Language matters, words matter, marriage matters," he writes.

Earlier this week, his mother, Mary McAleese, expressed her support for the same-sex marriage referendum, calling it a “human rights issue” and saying that she and her husband Martin believe that everyone should be able to “love someone for life” and have that love recognized “at the highest level of Irish society.”

"It is a debate about children, people have been saying it's about children - and we believe it to be about Ireland's gay children and about their future and about the kind of future we want for Ireland. We want, in the words of the proclamation: 'The children of a nation to be cherished equally'," she said.