Monday 20 May 2019

Tanaiste supports decision of Labour TDs to refuse to remove 'Yes Equality' badges in Dail

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton
Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton

Niall O'Connor

Tanaiste Joan Burton says she supports the decision of Labour Party TDs to refuse requests from the Oireachtas authorities to remove badges promoting a Yes vote in the Marriage Equality referendum.

Ms Burton said she thought the rule banning the wearing of badges and emblems in Leinster House had "disappeared".

The Labour leader recalled a previous period in the early nineties when she and her colleagues were asked to remove white ribbons which promoted the reinstatement of the ceasefire.

She said she was "shocked" when she was asked not to wear the ribbon in the Dail chamber.

John Lyons talking to first-time voters at Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun
John Lyons talking to first-time voters at Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun

Speaking a Labour event in Dublin today, Ms Burton suggested the Oireachtas rules should now be changed.

She made the call after two of her TDs - Labour whip Emmet Stagg and Dublin North West TD John Lyons - were asked today to remove marriage equality badges.

"Obviously, whatever rule is being applied, it's been there for a long time really I thought it had disappeared. Because in recent times, we have seen enormous changes in dress code, dress standards and I think people who have been in the Dail over a long period of time accepted it," Ms Burton said.

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

Emmet Stagg, Labour chief whip and TD for Kildare North
Emmet Stagg, Labour chief whip and TD for Kildare North

"I certainly would hope, given that I do see people from time to time wearing emblems and often quite prominently, that it would be the same rule for everybody...If they are wearing pins and wearing badges that are supporting equality, which is what the Dail is meant to progress in Ireland, then I do support them," she added.

Mr Stagg was approached by a Oireachtas usher this morning as he was entering the Dail chamber.

He was asked to remove the badge in compliance with the rules of the House.

But he refused the request, adding: "I'll take off my badge when Sinn Fein representatives take off theirs".

Several TDs and senators have been asked to remove badges in recent days as the Referendum campaign approaches.

Mr Lyons was also asked to remove his badge but refused to do so.

The Oireachtas Code of Parliamentary Standards bans the wearing of badges or emblems which are of a party-political nature.

“Emblems of a party-political nature should not be worn or otherwise displayed within the parliamentary precincts, an exception being made solely in respect of persons attending the distinguished visitors’ gallery," the role states.

Also today, Ms Burton offically launched a new Yes Equality video which featured Mr Lyons, one of four openly gay TDs in the Dail.

Mr Lyons appears in the video with his mother Josie and younger brother Declan at their home in Finglas.

The first time TD speaks to his mother about his decision a number of years ago to come out as a gay man.

Mr Lyons said he hopes the video will show people who are concerned about voting 'yes' that there is "nothing to be afraid of" by extending marriage to same sex couples.

Watch Labour's John Lyons' Marriage Equality Campaign Video:

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