Sunday 17 November 2019

Joan Burton: 'No opt-out for business people with objections of conscience to gay marriage'

Joan Burton. Photo: Damien Eagers
Joan Burton. Photo: Damien Eagers

John Downing Political Correspondent

THERE will be no “conscience clause” for business people who do not want to provide goods and services for same-sex weddings, Tanaiste Joan Burton said today.

The Labour leader also accused Fianna Fail of “politicising” the delays on Judge Nial Fennelly’s report on the Taoiseach’s role in the surprise early retirement of the Garda Commissioner precisely one year ago today.

But Ms Burton also said that she hoped Judge Fennelly will soon publish the section of his report dealing with the Taoiseach.  The Judge has said he cannot publish this until an ongoing High Court case taken by Ian Bailey against An Garda Siochana is completed.

The Tanaiste was asked to respond to a call by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, for an opt-out on religious grounds for business people who had “problems of conscience” about gay marriage.

The Labour leader praised Dr Martin for the sensitive and reasonable language he has used to date in his contributions to the debate on the referendum which will be held on May 22 next.

She said that Dr Martin had been especially sensitive in recognising the different circumstances of families on the issue.  Religious ministers will be given an opt-out allowing them refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies – but Ms Burton was emphatic that this cannot be extended to business people who refuse to sell goods or services to gay people getting married.

“No, such an exemption will not be possible,” Ms Burton said.

Asked about Fianna Fail leader  Micheal Martin’s criticisms of the Taoiseach’s refusal to comment on his testimony to the Fennelly Commission, Ms Burton said this was an attempt to “politicise” the issue,

“I do hope the Judge is able to make his report as early as possible,” Ms Burton added.

“I think the judge needs to be left to finish his work and report as early as possible. I certainly would like to see the report in relation to the section relating to the Taoiseach published as early as possible,” Ms Burton said.

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