FG grows cool on Labour's plan for gay marriage
FINE Gael is going lukewarm on Labour's push for gay marriage in the wake of the abortion legislation.
Party sources have indicated they see the current position of civil partnerships as enough – even though Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said there will be a referendum next year.
And now some are raising the possibility of Fine Gael not taking a position at all and if they do taking it after debating it at parliamentary party level or a national conference.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to take a position on gay marriage, and some senior sources in the Coalition say that most people would be content with the rights available under civil partnerships.
One senior FG source referenced Mr Gilmore's statement that gay marriage is the "civil rights issue of this generation".
"I suppose it's the 'civil rights issue of our times' but I think what most people want is the rights a civil partnership brings," the source said.
Just last month, Mr Gilmore said he expected a referendum to take place next year, but this has yet to be decided by the Government.
The Constitutional Convention – the Government's own think tank – overwhelmingly backed gay marriage earlier this year and it will report to Cabinet on the issue later this month.
The Government then has until November to decide whether to hold a referendum and some in Fine Gael acknowledge that the overwhelming majority at the convention in favour of it – some 79pc – make a strong case for a referendum.
One senior minister said: "I think there'll be a referendum next year based on the convention recommendation."
A spokesman for Mr Gilmore said his position that there will be a referendum next year was expressed on behalf of Labour.
Labour sources said the first commitment will be to get an agreement on holding a referendum and added the junior coalition partner cannot dictate what position Fine Gael will take on the issue.