Friday 17 November 2017

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay: 'No' campaign posters are 'sickening insults' towards lone parents and their children

Fergus Finlay
Fergus Finlay

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

THE Chief Executive of Children's charity Barnardos has accused advocates of a 'No' vote in the Marriage Equality referendum of "sickening insults" towards lone parents and their children.

Fergus Finlay today hit out at campaigners who insist every child "deserves a mother and father", saying it is ignores the thousands of single parent families.

Mr Finlay said no campaigners are trying to spread fear and anxiety about the impact of a 'yes' vote in next month's referendum.

"Every time I see a poster that urges people to vote against equality, because every child 'deserves a mother and a father', all I see is a sickening insult to the thousands of lone parents and children who love and care for each other in Ireland," Mr Finlay said.

"The message is exploitative, hurtful and dishonest. What every child deserves is love, respect, safety - that can come from two parents of either sex, two parents of the same sex, or a single parent," he added.

Mr Finlay made the comments at a joint press conference between Barnardos, the ISPCC and the Children's Rights Alliance.

Mr Finlay said the opinion polls would suggest that there is more concern about supporting same-sex marriage among men who are over the age of 50.

He said there is a much stronger need for the 'yes' campaign to reach out to this cohort.

"A lot of us men in Ireland were raised a very particular way. We were raised to sneer and to bully anyone who we thought was gay," he said.

"We called our friends in the school yard 'queer', we called them all sorts of insulting and demeaning names. We were raised with that and a lot of men have to come to terms with that in their own hearts."

Also speaking during the press conference, ISPCC chief executive Grainne Long said 30,000 of the 460,000 calls received by Child Line last year related to issues of sexuality.

She said vulnerable children are watching this debate and that she is concerned they are being "used" by the no campaign.

Tanya Ward of the Children's Rights Alliance said a 'yes' vote in no way undermines the rights of a child.

Ms Ward said the concept of parenthood is now "much broader" than a just consisting of a biological mother and father.

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