Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has said he will be voting 'Yes' in the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent at the annual sale of the Angus bulls and heifers he breeds at his Westmeath stud farm and home, Gigginstown House, Mr O'Leary confirmed his voting intentions, but pointedly declined to enter into the wider debate on the issue, saying it was up to the Irish people to decide for themselves.
"Personally I'll be voting 'Yes', but that's my personal view and it's up to the Irish people which way they vote," he said. The Ryanair chief's comments on the matter came on the same day that Justin McAleese, the son of former President Mary McAleese and Ryanair's Head of Investor Relations, emerged as an advocate for a 'Yes' vote.
Writing in the Irish Independent, Mr McAleese (30) revealed how he had come out as gay to his family and friends nine years ago
In his article, he recalled how he had been "on the verge of coming out" when former Unionist political adviser Steven King married his partner in a same-sex marriage ceremony in Canada in 2005, but had pulled back when friends laughed and joked about the idea of two men getting married.
Mr McAleese's reluctance to come out was reinforced by comments made by Ian Paisley Jnr, which went unchallenged.
"So I stayed in the closet for another 18 months. Language matters, words matter, marriage matters," he said.
While Mr O'Leary didn't comment directly on Mr McAleese's emergence as a 'Yes' vote advocate yesterday, he paid a warm tribute to him, saying: "He was my personal assistant for about three years. He's a very good guy. He got promoted to Head of Investor Relations in about January of this year, so he deals with most of our shareholders. He's a very good guy."
Just last Monday, Mr McAleese's mother said: "It is a debate about children, people have been saying it's about children - and we believe it to be about Ireland's gay children and about their future. We want - in the words of the Proclamation - 'the children of the Nation to be cherished equally'."