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'Gay marriage 'No' would send bad message internationally'


James Reilly

James Reilly

James Reilly

A 'no' result in the upcoming marriage equality referendum would send out a "bad message internationally" to those who want to come and work in Ireland, the Children's Minister has said.

Speaking at the Young Fine Gael National Conference in Limerick, Dr James Reilly said a 'No' result would show Irish people as "less tolerant than we should be".

"It will send a bad message internationally to those who would like to come here and work here, and we are trying to attract inward investment," he said.

"I equally think it would show that we really haven't come to terms with ourselves yet and I believe that we have, and I believe that there is an awful lot of people who believe like I do, that we live in a republic where one of the core values is that we treat everyone equally."

Outgoing president of Young Fine Gael Dale McDermott spoke of the difficulty in coming out as a gay man. The 22-year-old recalled being depressed as a teenager and admitted that, on his darkest days, he considered "ending it all".

"For years, being gay consumed my mind - I hated it. I was depressed. I felt that I could never achieve my potential and that a limit would be placed on how far I could go."

He said securing a 'Yes' result would tell teenagers struggling with their sexuality, that it is OK to be who you are in modern Ireland.

"I know what it is like to be the teenager in the classroom, hiding under a thin veneer of 'straightness' because of an institutionalised fear of what my peers would say and do if my veneer was scratched," he said.

Addressing the conference at the weekend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged young Fine Gael supporters to "get out from behind their computers" during the referendum campaign.

He praised young people for their expertise using social media, but stressed the importance of meeting with the electorate face to face.

"The power of a young person engaging in conversation cannot be underestimated. You are brilliant at the social media but remember there is very little to beat knocking on the door and saying you represent Fine Gael, you want to talk to them."

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