Friday 20 October 2017

At least this time, both Yes and No camps debated with some dignity

Banners encouraging voters to support the Yes and the No campaign in the Irish same-sex marriage referendum are seen in Dublin
Banners encouraging voters to support the Yes and the No campaign in the Irish same-sex marriage referendum are seen in Dublin
John Downing

John Downing

We are getting better at public debate on sexual morality.

If you doubt that statement, then you are not old enough to remember the events in the autumn of 1983 and the referendum on the eighth amendment to Bunreacht na hÉireann. The vulgar, personalised and hurtful abuse, which 32 years ago masqueraded as debate on that amendment aimed at banning legislation to permit abortion, was happily nowhere evoked during this referendum debate.

A better-quality public discourse is one conclusion we can definitively draw from the past month of at times intense discussion about whether or not we should permit marriage between same-sex couples.

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