Reilly: 'No' campaign is using children as 'pawns'
Published 17/04/2015 | 02:30
A government minister has accused leading members of the 'No' campaign in the Marriage Equality Referendum of using children as "pawns" in order to spread fear.
Children's Minister James Reilly likened members of the 'No' campaign to opponents of the divorce referendum, who he said used scaremongering as a core part of their strategy.
Dr Reilly expressed concern that arguments put forward by the 'No' campaign will negatively affect children who are uncomfortable with their sexuality, adding: "There is nothing to fear from allowing people to marry those whom they love".
Addressing a seminar organised by the Adoption Authority of Ireland in Dublin, Dr Reilly accused opponents of the referendum of using children as "pawns".
"Children should not be used as pawns by campaigners in this referendum to spread fear."
The Fine Gael deputy leader highlighted the "vulnerable group" of children who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation.
"Children who are uncomfortable about their sexuality are awaiting the result. We know this is a vulnerable group in our society. A recent study clearly highlighted the impact that feeling different has on them," he said.
"They are 20 times more likely to drink alcohol frequently; 20 times more likely to use marijuana; and, most shockingly and disturbingly, 14 times more likely to attempt suicide."
Reacting last night, the Iona Institute accused the Government of misleading voters.
"It's clearly ridiculous to claim that changing the definition of marriage and the family has nothing to do with children," said the institute's Dr John Murray.
"As to the claim of 'scaremongering', this is coming from a minister who claims the very debate will endanger the mental health of some gay people and a Government which claims that if we vote 'No' it will damage the economy and our international reputation. That is genuine scaremongering," he added in a statement.
The managing director of Twitter Ireland has revealed that the company is supporting a 'Yes' vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Stephen McIntyre said that a 'Yes' vote could "only help" make Ireland appear more attractive to foreign investors.
He said: "It [a Yes vote] is just an additional selling factor for investment, I would say."
Mr McIntyre is married with two sons and said he would support them totally if it turned out they were gay.
He added: "Ireland would only make it onto the front pages of international newspapers a few times a year.
"I think it would be a pity if we were on the front of the 'New York Times' on May 23 because we voted against something that appears to be forward-looking."
However, conservative advocacy group the Iona Institute accused Twitter of interfering in Irish politics by making the announcement.