The ‘Yes’ side had a field day in Dublin today, with Enda Kenny and co. preaching to the converted at a press conference which in reality was nothing more than a collection of speeches by Fine Gael stalwarts advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote.
The Cabinet members present at today’s event knew going into it that they would not be faced with any kind of challenging questions, as independent media did not get a chance to ask them. The Taoiseach got away unscathed, always surrounded by acolytes and ‘Yes’ men.
To put the stark contrast between sides into perspective, let’s look at a few facts about the ‘No’ campaign.
When the ‘Mothers and Fathers Matter’ group launched their ‘No’ campaign, for instance, a whole panel of speakers thoroughly explained their reasons and postulations for advocating a ‘No’ vote. During that event, media elements were able to ask questions for well over an hour, with a segment on references and statistics by Kate Bopp, a mother of five, taking over ten minutes alone. This is the polar opposite of today’s quasi-farce, when only three preordained and largely irrelevant questions were allowed.
The ‘No’ campaigners use very valid arguments in their opinions, while the ‘Yes’ side, spearheaded by the Government, use scaremongering and their very position of power to railroad an outcome that suits them. It is noteworthy that the only time the Government have stopped and thought about a marriage entity is when the Same Sex Marriage issue came about. Prior to that, they had done nothing to help married couples in terms of taxation, education, etc.
In another example, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said back in 2010 that he believed children need a mother and father. He appears to have changed his mind since, for no apparent reason.
Polling day is approaching fast, and the outcome of the referendum is far from clear. What is clear, however, is that the Taoiseach will refuse to engage in meaningful discussion with the ‘No’ side, if only to safeguard his own personal image.