Monday 23 October 2017

One fifth still undecided on same sex marriage

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

Philip Ryan Political Correspondent

More than three out of five people will vote in favour of changing the constitution to recognise same sex marriage, according to a Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll.

However, the Government still has an uphill battle to pass the historic constitutional change as a fifth of people are still undecided about their voting intentions just two months ahead of the vote.

And even more worryingly for the Yes camp, a third of those who said they will vote in favour of changing the constitution said their support is 'soft'.

Some 16pc of those polled said they will be voting against the referendum which would give equal marriage rights to same sex couples. There is also an element of a soft vote among a third of those who said they will be voting No.

The public has shown overwhelming support for Health Minister Leo Varadkar's decision to announce he is gay.

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said Minister Varadkar's decision to come out made no difference to their opinion that he should become the next Taoiseach.

Similarly, three-quarters of those who do not want him to become the next Taoiseach also said his sexuality does not influence their opinion.

Mr Varadkar is still the public's preferred choice of Fine Gael leader going into the next election, with almost two out of five saying they would like him to lead the party.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is trailing behind his Cabinet colleague with a little more than one in five saying he should continue to lead the party when the country goes to the polls. In the Fine Gael leadership stakes, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is on 10pc, Finance Minister Michael Noonan is on 6pc and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is at 2pc.

The Marriage Equality referendum will be a major test of the Taoiseach's leadership and anything but a resounding win for the Yes camp could be seen as a failure for Mr Kenny.

The Labour Party is throwing every resource into campaigning for a Yes vote but their Coalition colleagues are not treating the referendum with the same enthusiasm.

Fine Gael TDs and ministers are publicly supporting a Yes vote but many, especially in rural constituencies, have no intention of canvassing constituents on such a divisive issue a year out from a general election.

Their fears are confirmed in today's poll which shows the majority of those opposed to gay marriage are older people from farming communities.

Senior Fine Gael figures are even predicting the referendum will be lost and are reluctant to associate themselves with the campaign.

There are concerns within the party over the impact of soon-to-be introduced family law which will pave the way for same sex couples to adopt children.

"That referendum won't be carried and it will be defeated more heavily than people think," a senior Fine Gael source said.

"Nobody has a problem with gay marriage but when you bring the children into it then the problems starts," said the same source.

Sunday Independent

Also in this section