Dublin-born chief executive of Qantas, Alan Joyce, joked his marriage in three weeks is “the most expensive wedding of a Tallaght man” after he donated Aus$1m (€670,000) to the Australian marriage equality campaign.
Mr Joyce, who joined Australian airline Qantas in 2000 and was appointed its CEO eight years later, hailed the changes in Ireland over the last 20 years.
Speaking at a Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner in the Convention Centre tonight, Mr Joyce opening up about his decision to involve the company in the campaign for marriage equality down under.
“I think every business community should be involved and passionate about these issues.
“We decided and I decided that Quantas was better off being part of it.
“And we personally wanted to get involved in it and my partner worked in the campaign for two years.
“And we donated personally a million dollars to the campaign because we were massively outmatched by the church who supported a no campaign.
“So I can probably almost with complete certainty say that my marriage in three weeks time is the most expensive wedding of a Tallaght man,” he said, to laughs from the crowd.
Mr Joyce said he wasn’t disappointed when he went to Australia.
“It’s an amazing country. But to see in those last 20 odd years the changes that have taken place in Ireland has been truly inspirational.
“First of all the marriage equality referendum that took place in 2015. The world was watching and Ireland showed the rest of the world,” he said.
“In that vote, with 62pc of the Irish population voting in favour, inspired the rest of the world, was an inspiration to us in Australia and was the light on the hill that we could all aspire to.
“The marriage equality campaign manager, Tiernan Brady, immediately left Ireland and came to Australia to work on our campaign.
“And he did an amazing job and he was inspirational in changing the laws in Australia.
“I took a leading role, as a leader of the business community believing social issues are a thing that business should get involved in.
“We are part of a democracy and should have a say.”
He said there was a backlash against his stand.
“At an event in Perth, I had a very angry man throw a pie in my face because of supporting marriage equality,” he said.
“I did notice that Richard Branson, who runs our major competitor Virgin Australia, came down soon after that and said he supported marriage equality long before Alan Joyce did.
“Then Greyhound buses came out and said they supported marriage equality.”
He also said a senior member of the Australian government had told him not to get involved in social issues.