Wednesday 17 July 2019

'Ger Brennan needs to realise there's nothing simple about family life,' says Cork hurler Conor Cusack

Dublin football star Ger Brennan. Inset, Cork hurler Conor Cusack
Dublin football star Ger Brennan. Inset, Cork hurler Conor Cusack
Ger Brennan is an All-Ireland winning Dublin GAA footballer
Donal Cusack

David Kearns

There is more to being a parent than biology says Cork hurler Conor Cusack, who has criticised comments by Dublin footballer Ger Brennan who said he is voting No in the upcoming Marriage Referendum.

Writing in today's 'Irish Independent', Dublin All-Ireland winner Ger Brennan said he would be voting No on May 22 because he felt there was “great value in having a child being brought up in a home that has a father and a mother… a biological father and mother as far as possible.”

“I believe we’d be doing [children] a disadvantage and a disservice if their parents are not their biological parents. Blood is thicker than water,” he said.

“They [homosexual couples] are equal in their love but biologically disadvantaged.”

Read More: Dublin football star Ger Brennan: Why I'm voting No

Following publication of his article in the newspaper today, the footballer explained his stance on Today FM's Anton Savage show.

“I felt that I needed to voice my opinion… [because] when one hears the term ‘equality; your human instinct is going to jump and say ‘yes’ because we all want everyone to be equal," he told the programme.

“But, what the Government have done really well is kind of hijacked human beings emotions and played on that without highlighting deeper consequences from a legal point of view,” he said.

Cork hurler Conor Cusack, who is openly gay and a high profile mental health advocate, appeared on the show supporting the Yes vote.

Conor, who is brother to Donal Og Cusack, said that "for too long now, people haven’t been able to be true to themselves.”

“Ger talks a lot about differences but this [referendum] is about this country celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of its people.

“It’s about cherishing something that bind us all together as human beings - the desire to be loved and to be able to love someone unconditionally.”

“There’s nothing in this country that’s a stronger symbol than a person being able to get married, and to be denied that opportunity – whether we like it or not, sends out a powerful message that you are less than a human being.”

Read More: Referendum Commission: Couples have no 'right' to surrogacy

While his preference is for a man and women to raise a child, the All-Ireland champion said that same sex couples, lone parents and grandparents had done, and continue to do, an "unbelievable job" in raising children.

He also stated that he "would 100pc vote Yes on extending marriage to same sex civil partnerships tomorrow" on the condition that the relationship between children and their biological parents was protected.

Asked about the Dublin star’s opinion, that “a mother and father was ideal” when it came to the family unit, Cork hurler Conor Cusack said there was "nothing simple about family life."

Read More: Varadkar: 'mask slips' on 'No' campaign

“I’d absolutely love to live in an ideal world but that’s not the reality of life. Life is complex, life is messy and the strength of any society is how it embraces that complexity. There’s nothing simple about family life,” said Mr Cusack, who is campaigning for a Yes vote.

“Being an effective parent isn’t about your biology or your genitals. It is about the quality of the love you bring to the family.”

“Ger is a courageous advocate for his religious beliefs… and I think it’s very healthy during this debate for people to be able to express what’s real for them.”

“[But] we keep hearing about kids… [but] it’s a red herring, it’s deflecting away from what this referendum is really about.”

Read More: Government denies links to Catholic agency cuts and referendum

Read More: Mary Lou McDonald forced to remove 'Yes' badge from jacket in Dail chamber

In a separate interview earlier today on Newstalk radio, Mr Brennan said he was also concern that if the marriage equality referendum passes, schools that promote a “Catholic ethos” would be attacked.

“It’s a side issue at the moment but I feel that it will come down the line,” he added. 

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