There has been much sceptism about the Constitutional Convention and its potential to be effective. Essentially many feared that it was just a mere talking shop, a handy place for the Government to ‘park’ sensitive issues such as, for example, gay marriage. Yet on Sunday, 79 per cent of convention members voted to extend civil marriage rights to same sex couples in this country. The recommendation will now go before the Government before an Oireachtas debate is held on the matter. The convetion members have spoken and their message is loud and clear - this is not a parking spot.
Not everyone is happy, of course. Convention member Senator Ronan Mullen called the debate a ‘a flawed process’ and made a number of serious allegations about the way the debate was handled, the information made available to convention members and he alleged attempts were made by unnamed politicians to curb the speaking time of others.
While the recommendation will not change anything, it is the start of a long journey that could potentially lead to same sex marriage in Ireland. With opinion polls suggesting that as much as 73 per cent of the Irish population is in favour of gay marriage, it would appear that this issue is not the ‘showstopper’ it once was. Too many people have seen their gay children, friends or neighbours discriminated against in myriad ways in so-called modern Ireland and they realise it is time to address this issue. It was a good weekend for equal rights in this country. And a good weekend for the Constitutional Convention too.