Wednesday 19 June 2019

Few highlights as TV debate contested in a civilised manner

Alex White
Alex White
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

At the end of the televised debate Miriam O'Callaghan thanked her guests for taking care in what proved a civilised discussion on the Marriage Equality Referendum.

And apart from accusations of selective quoting and introducing "red herrings", along with inevitable rows of interruptions, this was true.

Many of the arguments we have heard played out on our radios and on television sets took centre stage for a final outing.

However, viewers who were waiting until this debate to make up their mind were probably left scratching their heads by the end.

The 'Yes' side - made up of Labour minister Alex White, Independent Senator Katherine Zappone and Amnesty Ireland's Colm O'Gorman - insisted the referendum was not about children or changing the family, and definitely not about surrogacy or adoption. Instead, they insisted it is simply about giving gay couples the constitutional right to marriage.

The 'No' camp - which included Senator Rónán Mullen, the Iona Institute's Maria Steen and barrister Patrick Treacy - argued that children will not be entitled to a mother and father if the debate is passed.

Ms Steen said the debate was her first as she feared losing friends who are gay if she was seen speaking out against the referendum. She also said the son of a woman she knew was targeted by bullies and called a homophobe for not supporting a 'Yes' vote.

Mr Mullen, who faced the most accusations of interrupting other guests, used the debate to defend the Belfast bakery found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake carrying a slogan that promoted same-sex marriage.

Despite the controversy over his appearance, Mr White held his own. However, it was Mr O'Gorman who proved one of the most articulate advocates for a 'Yes' vote when he insisted his marriage was not a joke after Mr Treacy highlighted a case of two straight men who married in Australia when same-sex marriage was made legal.

Apart from this there were few highlights in what was billed as the final debate before the most important referendum in decades.

Irish Independent

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