Independent TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed comments by the Garda Siochana Press Office which described a Yes Campaign event for the upcoming same sex referendum as inappropriate and a threat to the perception of the Gardaí as an apolitical and neutral organisation. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the event which saw a uniformed member of the Gardaí pose alongside retired Judge Catherine McGuinness outside a Dublin city station:
“I think whatever justifications the organisers are coming up with apart from promoting greater voter registration are completely disingenuous. It is inconceivable that the thought did not cross their mind that this was an abuse of the position of the Gardaí. It is also stretching credibility to think that a retired judge of Catherine McGuinness’s standing could not have foreseen potential conflicts of interest by taking part in the event where she did and with whom she did.
“If those advocating a No vote were to be pictured with members of the Gardaí in uniform I am sure there would be a massive backlash from the Yes campaign about that. We have already seen several lines crossed in the last week in terms of business leaders being drafted in to use indirect and thinly veiled threats to employment to swing a democratic vote one way or the other.
We cannot have the Gardaí, an impartial and neutral body drafted in in the same way. We need fairness in this debate, not cheap stunts that do the Gardaí and the voters a huge disservice,” concluded Deputy McGrath.
Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised regarding a separate event which took place in UCC in late March, when pictures appeared on social media network Facebook, showing a Stand run by UCC LGBT and USI “Students for Marriage Equality”. In the pictures, a representative for the groups is shown sitting at the Stand, together with a uniformed bean Garda, apparently assisting UCC students with their voter registration forms. “Yes to Equality” badges are visible on the Stand as well as Vote Yes backdrops.