I AM that rarest of beasts: a leopard that has changed its spots.
I must confess that when the Government first decided to hold the same-sex marriage referendum I was opposed to this change in the definition of marriage.
I had decided early on that I would be voting 'no'. After all, I was of the old school brought up in an Ireland where acts of homosexuality were deemed as heinous crimes by the Catholic Church and were considered criminal acts in this State.
I believe that I do not have a homophobic bone in my body and have always believed in the dictum 'live and let live'.
I always believed that in the past long-term cohabiting gay couples had a raw deal in this country and I welcomed the enactment into law the rights of those couples under civil partnership legislation.
I believed and welcomed that change at the time but I realise now that I was wrong. It was only a half-way house to true equality under the law.
I am now of the conviction that it is only right and proper in a modern democratic society to enshrine same-sex marriage in law with the same protections as traditional marriage.
I accept that there are many genuine people who are opposed to same sex marriage.
They of course are equally entitled to canvass for a 'No' vote on May 22. However I believe that there others in the 'No' campaign using spurious, disingenuous and irrelevant arguments to muddy the waters and cause uncertainty, fear and confusion amongst the public.
Many of their 'No' posters carry pictures of distressed, tear-stained children calling for their mothers - this is nothing short of emotional blackmail. They remind me of posters used in the last divorce referendum.
The 'No' campaigners cite a traditional stereotype of a perfect family, with children with a mother and father. This is not and was never a true or valid reality.
The only truly perfect family I ever recall seeing on this earth were the Von Trapps in The Sound of Music.
As such I find the 'no' posters and literature offensive and insensitive to families who, for one reason or another (bereavement or divorce, for example), are without one or other parent.
To call those families and indeed single mothers bringing up children as 'incomplete' or 'not proper families' is cruel.
As you consider which way to vote I want to put you in mind of the story of Rosa Parks.
Rosa was a black woman who lived in Montgomery in Alabama in USA. One day in 1955 she boarded a segregated bus and sat with white people. She was arrested and charged and subsequently became an icon for the 60s civil rights' movement.
We'll each have our own small Rosa Parks moment on May 22 and can make our stand.
If same sex couples are granted the right to marry they will have the same rights as 'traditional' couples and we can truly say we have embraced civil rights in this country. The Irish are a kind, generous and compassionate people. I believe that we will demonstrate this on May 22 when we vote 'Yes'.
BY staging a strike, bus workers' unions have shown how out of touch they are with the mood of the Irish people.
Last Friday and Saturday, on a busy bank holiday weekend, the SIPTU-NBRU work stoppage brought severe disruption to the travelling public.
In these times, with many people in the private sector out of work or on reduced wages, bus drivers are well-paid by average levels. What's more, many of them are making significant money in overtime. Their jobs are secure.
Last week's strike cost Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann almost €3m, it's estimated. These same companies are already receiving millions of euro in taxpayer subsidies yearly to survive. Now they'll need even more.
SIPTU rep Owen Reidy
The plan to privatise a mere 10pc of services did not merit this drastic action by the drivers.
Fears that tendering certain bus routes out to sole contractors would result in a loss of jobs for existing employees were quashed with a Government promise that not a single driver will lose their jobs. The union, therefore, have scored an own goal with their thoughtless action at a time when we are coming out of recession. In fact, given the loss to Dublin businesses last week this strike was nothing short of industrial sabotage.
To make this even worse, the unions are planning five more days of action.
What can be gained by this? Apart from holding the public to ransom and costing taxpayers and businesses even more money? Further strikes will also alienate any remaining public support.
SIPTU's Owen Reidy said this week that the companies should spend more time on resolving the issues. But negotiation's a two-way street - and bus drivers need to show some sense themselves.
I WAS in Blackburn when Kate Middleton gave birth to a bouncing baby girl, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
The royal princess
I was taken aback at the sheer levels of joy among ordinary people on the arrival of the fourth in line to the British throne.
In one tavern that I entered I was offered a free pint to celebrate the birth of the Royal Princess, no less. The town centre was decked with bunting and banners.
And it wasn't just England that was beaming. On my return to this country I was amazed, once again, at the fascination we have here for all things pertaining to the British royal family. Everyone was talking about the little girl.
It is a mystery to me as to how we are engrossed and entranced by all the shenanigans of the Windsors. Maybe we should consider bringing back the High Kings of Ireland...then we'd have some home-grown royals to obsess about!
Aidan Lynam, a motorcyclist and one of the top fundraisers for Down Syndrome Ireland, was tragically killed in a collision in Co Clare last Sunday.
By all accounts Aidan was an inspirational man who devoted his life to the helping of others - and a great dad too.
Rest in peace.
Fr Francis Kelleher was jailed for four years last week in Cork Circuit Court for hiring a hitman from the Continuity IRA to issue death threats to his own nephew.
Fr Francis Kelleher
Innocent Niall Kelleher was subjected to a terror campaign at the orders of this so-called man of God. This cleric deserves to serve every day of his four year term.