Over the last 48 hours, social media has been rampant with Facebook posts and Twitter tweets about the leader of the country, Enda Kenny.
The Taoiseach, who is the sole leader of the Yes side in the upcoming referendum, has categorically stated that he will not debate the No side. TheLiberal team witnessed this statement first hand at a rather uninspiring press conference held by Fine Gael in Dublin on Monday morning. At that event, a few senior Cabinet members delivered speeches at a very personal level, seeking to evoke an emotional response from the audience, rather than spark debate. And when it came to the Q&A part, only three selected questions were allowed, once again stifling a debate that the Government clearly did not want to engage in.
Throughout his stint as Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has consistently refused to participate in debates concerning important issues, and in fact, he retracted his promise in January 2015 of debating the gay marriage issue when it came around.
For instance, Mr. Kenny was strongly criticised for refusing to take part in television debates on the Seanad referendum, and indeed, the failure of that referendum was blamed by many on the Taoiseach’s staunch refusal to debate the matter in public with No campaigners, who ultimately came on top.
Now, the Taoiseach’s refusal to debate the gay marriage issue must surely be causing controversy within his own ranks, as he doesn’t seem to believe in the campaign enough to debate it with the No side. There sure are enough people out there who would love to go head to head with the Taoiseach on this issue. Keith Mills, for instance, an openly gay man who is advocating a No vote on grounds that a child needs both a mother and father where possible. There would be no shortage of opponents.
At the end of the day, it is the right of the people of Ireland to hear this debate from their elected leader, before they make up their mind. But instead, Mr. Kenny is just pushing for a “Yes” vote just because he says so.
All that notwithstanding, the Taoiseach seems to also be confused with the concepts of marriage and civil partnership.
Back in February, at the party’s National Conference in the Taoiseach’s own home turf, Castlebar, Enda Kenny said “It’s about your right to say two small words, make up of three simple letters – I DO.”
He had obviously not checked up on the wording of civil partnerships.
Gay people in Ireland already have the right to say “I do”, as this commitment is part of the civil partnership ceremony, introduced here following the passing of the Civil Partnership Act 2010. Many people are already living very happily in civil partnerships, and yet the Taoiseach did not even seem to be aware of what their commitment means for them, and their relationships. Despite this confused state, he is actively promoting a Yes vote.
Many gay campaigners for the “No” side have stated that they feel marginalised in this debate. Their civil partnerships, are now being described as “second-rate” and “unequal” by Yes campaigners.