Thursday 21 November 2019

No 'opt-out' on gay customers, warns Burton

Tánaiste Joan Burton officially opened the Ballymun pilot Youth Guarantee Dissemination Conference with Project Manager Paul Carroll. Picture: Mark Condren
Tánaiste Joan Burton officially opened the Ballymun pilot Youth Guarantee Dissemination Conference with Project Manager Paul Carroll. Picture: Mark Condren
John Downing

John Downing

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 has said.

The Labour leader also accused Fianna Fáil 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.

Ms Burton said she hoped Judge Fennelly would soon publish the section of his report dealing with the Taoiseach. The judge has said he could not publish this until an ongoing High Court case taken by Ian Bailey against An Garda Síochana is completed.

The Tánaiste 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 language he has used to date in his contributions to the debate on the referendum.

Ms Burton was speaking during a break at a conference in Ballymun, Dublin, which reviewed efforts to create youth training and job opportunities for unemployed young people.

She said 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 could not be extended to business people who refused to sell goods or services to gay people getting married.

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

On Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin's criticisms of the Taoiseach's refusal to discuss his testimony to the Fennelly Commission, Ms Burton said this was an attempt to "politicise" the issue,

"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.

The report presented at the Ballymun conference showed that the number of young people signing on the Live Register there dropped by 29pc in 2014. The Tánaiste said that was significantly more than the national average of 19pc in youth unemployment.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section