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Friday 22 November 2019

Markus Feehily on marriage referendum - 'Not a fibre of my body could respect any person who campaigns for a no vote'

Markus Feehily
Markus Feehily
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Former Westlife member Markus Feehily has said he cannot "respect any person who campaigns for a no vote" in the upcoming marriage referendum.

The 34-year old singer, who came out as gay in 2005, was speaking to Jonathan Healy on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk about why he's voting yes.

"I think varieties of opinion and different opinions are good in many cases but I can’t, as a gay man who’s excited to see this vote going through and for Ireland to support the yes side of it, not a fibre of my body could respect any person who campaigns for a no vote," he said.

"The no side isn’t even something I feel is credible enough of an argument to even discuss.  I think it’s crazy that people are actually out there making posters and sticking them to poles. 

Mark Feehily
Mark Feehily

"It’s about being equal, you know?  And anything they’re arguing for I just have no respect for.  I’m not even sorry for that."

The star also revealed that he has particular issue with some aspects of the no campaign which he described as 'neanderthal' and 'pathethic'.

"In Sligo, and Ireland in general, in which I spent a lot of time still to this day, I’ve heard nothing but yes support, but I do know a couple of people I know in Dublin who are quite heavily involved in the yes campaign, people are almost specifically targeting them with 50 no posters outside their house in the middle of the night so that when they wake up it’s almost an attack of no campaigners voting against them," he said.

"I almost think that’s so backward and so Neanderthal that no campaigners actually for me helping the yes vote.  If they’re going to be that pathetic it would push somebody to go and vote yes actually."

Westlife (Brian McFadden, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan), pop group, circa 2000. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)
Westlife (Brian McFadden, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan), pop group, circa 2000. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)

When Mark came out he was still in Westlife and he said his main concern prior to coming out was his career and the career of his bandmates Kian Egan, Shane Filan, and Nicky Byrne.

"I used to sit there and feel, what’s the point of going outside, I can’t be myself," he said.

Asked what he would say to himself with the benefit of hidnsight, he said, "I would try and tell myself that it’s going to be so much less of a deal than you think it is and actually the millions of letters of support you’re going to get.

"First of all I would have been worrying about whether or not coming out would have damaged the careers of four of my closest friends in the world, the guys in Westlife. But we had our biggest hit, You Raise Me UP, within three months after I came out. 

"I would try and drill it in myself that it’s going to be an anticlimax and if anything changes it  changes for the better not the worse."

As for being subject to abuse on account of his sexuality, he said he "never, ever" gets abuse.  However, he said the current issue is about voting and "not about whether or not people are okay with gay people".

"The issue is about voting and it’s one thing to say, yeah I’ve not got a problem with gay people, I’ve neighbours who are gay, people in my tennis club who are gay, that’s not what it’s about," he said.

"It’s about actually getting up and going out and voting, physically voting.  It’s not about being okay with gay people in this particular conversation."

The very fact that there has to be a referendum on the issue of same sex marriage is something that Mark says is "strange".

"To me it feels strange to even be having a discussion.  It feel strange to be even having a vote.  I don’t think it’s the type of thing that somebody should be voting or considering.  It should go without saying that people are equal, that there are equal rights," he said.

"I kind of look at it in the way that love is love.  It’s not about anything else.  It’s about love and expressing your love.

"It’s about me being equal to my friends and family whether it’s in Sligo or Dublin or Timbuktoo. In a way it does feel like I’ve been robbed of something the fact that people have the right to choose this for me, that I’m equal or not."

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