TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has indicated for the first time that Fine Gael will adopt a position on gay marriage before next year's referendum.
Mr Kenny has repeated his intention to campaign for a Yes vote and reiterated that Fine Gael does not have a policy on marriage equality.
But he now says he expects the party to form a position on gay marriage before the vote.
"Absolutely. I think there are very strong comments from members of the party about this and obviously the party has not made a decision yet. But I will be campaigning on the issue and for the issue," he told the Irish Independent.
The largest party in Government taking a different stance to its leader would be unlikely.
Fine Gael is committed to holding a gay marriage referendum while in Government, but the party has yet to form a policy on the issue.
But Fine Gael does have a growing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group, formed by the party's first openly gay TD, Jerry Buttimer.
Mr Kenny said he would be personally campaigning for marriage equality in the referendum. "I'll be supportive of it and will campaign for it," he told this newspaper at the party's European elections selection convention.
"People should have a calm and considered and compassionate debate about all of this, so that people can listen to the arguments put up from whatever quarter," he said.
Mr Kenny said there were likely to be three other referendums held on the same day as the vote on gay marriage.
Yesterday, Rory O'Neill – also known as drag queen Panti Bliss – revealed that he had been approached to run in the European elections. He will not be seeking a nomination but called on the Government to run the referendum as soon as possible, saying that the "sky doesn't fall in" just because "Joe and John can marry".
Meanwhile, Reform Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton said she had "reservations" about gay marriage.
Ms Creighton said she was in favour of holding a referendum on gay marriage, but declined to say if she would support it. "I have reservations," she said.
Ms Creighton says there needed to be a debate about what equality meant, including a variety of rights and treatment under the tax laws.
"Whether that involves changing the definition of marriage is part of that debate – not the only part," she said on RTE's 'Marian Finucane Show'.
The Reform Alliance, which was formed after the expulsion of Fine Gael TDs and senators for voting against the abortion legislation, has been accused of being conservative.