Sunday 23 October 2016

Senator Jim Walsh on marriage equality referendum: 'I grew up without a father... it leaves a void'

Published 30/04/2015 | 12:15

Senator Jim Walsh
Senator Jim Walsh

A Senator has said he will be voting ‘No’ in the upcoming Marriage Equality referendum because he knows the effect of growing up without a father.

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Senator Jim Walsh, who resigned the party whip over his opposition to the Children and Family Relationship Bill last month, told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny today how his father died when he was five years old.

“I had my own personal life experience - and I think we’re all influenced by that - which would have given me an insight into the importance of a child having both a father and a mother.”

“I was five years old. My father was 32 when he died from a cerebral haemorrhage. My youngest sister was two weeks old.”

“I was conscious of the sacrifices [my mother] made and I see from my involvement in politics how single mothers are seriously challenged financially to rear their children.”

“I was conscious of the void that I had. I made this point in the debate in the Seanad, first of all my personal experience of being reared without a father is a significant issue. There’s a void. So many times I would have liked my father to be involved in my life.”

“He was very keen on hurling, he was a great GAA man. He wasn’t there when I was hurling. He wasn’t there when I was in school and some of the politicial successes,” the Fianna Fail Senator said.

Mr Walsh explained that he thinks the right of a child to his/her biological parents supersedes that of an adult’s desire for a child.

“This is about equality as well, but it’s equality for children is the area I would come from on it.”

“I know gay couples who are rearing children and I would have little doubt that the children are cared for, well looked after, nurtured.”

But he said: “All the socio-scientific research clearly shows that a mother and a father in a loving stable relationship is in fact the best family type for the children.”

“The whole spin of this is that it’s really about equality, but it’s not. It’s really about children, that’s the fundamental issue... Let’s say [the referendum] was passed in law. No government will be able to in the future make provision in law to circumscribe the donor assisted human reproduction or surrogacy.”

Mr Walsh said he believes some people who wish to vote ‘No’ are living in fear, and he said he’s received much support from those voting ‘No’

“I think it’s fair to say equality is already there.”

“From this, we’re creating a situation where most children will have a mother and a father. There will be another core group of children who will be deprived of a mother or a father or maybe both.”

“I’ve been a product for most of my life of a single parent and I’ve seen the sacrifices and I’ve seen the efforts that were done to protect us as children.”

“I’ve also seen children in same sex relationships that are well looked after but I think when we look at the generality of it, all the socio-scientific studies show that children from a married, biological parents set up is best,” he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny.

“There is a need – biology and nature does matter.... I can see with my own children that there’s a special relationship with the father, and a special but different relationship with the mother.”

“It’s an important part of the development of the child,” he said.

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