Saturday 24 March 2018

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin 'doesn't agree with' his ally who called for LGBT flag removal from Cork City Hall

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Daniel McConnell, Group Political Correspondent

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has distanced himself from one of his close party allies who called for the removal of a LGBT flag from Cork City Hall.

Speaking today at a walkabout canvass in Dublin city centre, Mr Martin said he disagreed with Cllr Terry Shannon's remarks and that he did not hold the same views.

"I don't agree with what he said at the council chamber. He has his own views and I don't agree with him on that," Mr Martin said. "I don't think it was necessary at all in my view," he added.

Mr Shannon had called on council chief executive Ann Doherty to remove the LGBT rainbow flag which is currently flying from the roof of Cork City Hall.

Shannon said that it’s inappropriate to have such a flag flying with the referendum due to take place on 22 May.

The flag is being flown to mark the Cork’s fifth annual LGBT Awareness Week.

“I believe, as a corporate body, we should not have a flag like that hanging over City Hall while the referendum is on.  Either we put up two flags or we take this one down,” Mr Shannon said.

Mr Martin insisted that Mr Shannon is supporting the Yes Equality campaign and will be voting Yes on polling day. The Fianna Fáil leader also said Mr Shannon is unlikely to face any sanction for his comments.

"We are not in the business of doing that. We are concerned about getting the vote out," Mr Martin said.

Asked about media reports this morning as to cuts in State funding to the Catholic Marriage advice service Accord, Mr Martin said the timing of the announcement was "appalling and very misfortunate."

"I think the timing is appalling from the perspective of the referendum," he said.

"I think it is wrong. I have a great respect for Accord, they do very good work. Cutting in the middle of the year is completely unacceptable. It is a double blow. If it is going to be cut the funding should be cut at the beginning of the year so they can plan," he told reporters.

Mr Martin added that he did not think there was any political motivation to cut the funding.

Speaking at the same event, Senator Averil Power made an impassioned plea for people to vote in support of gay people throughout Ireland, especially young gay people.

She also said a rejection of the referendum would "feel like a kick in the stomach" to thousands of gay people in Ireland.

Asked about the Carlow Kilkenny by-election, Mr Martin said he remained confident that Bobby Aylward would take the seat.

"We have a very good candidate, he comes from a good family. We need 50pc plus one vote to win so we are going all out to win," he said.

He rejected suggestions that his leadership would be in jeopardy should Fianna Fáil not take the seat. Should that happen, Fianna Fáil would have lost all seven by elections held since 2011.

Asked about the Government's pending Mortgage Arrears measures, Mr Martin was critical that it has taken four years for the Coalition to act.

He said he and his party had long since

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