The Convention on the Constitution and Same-Sex Marriage – This is Only The Beginning

Same Sex Marriage
Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s vote at the Convention on the Constitution was an amazing step on the road to Same Sex Marriage in Ireland. The overwhelming support from the convention to changing the Constitution is certainly something to bolster those campaigning for Same Sex Marriage. A huge well done to GLEN, MarriagEquality and the ICCL on their presentations and everyone that took part in the panel discussions in favour of Same Sex Marriage.

The details of the vote and results are as follows:

The Convention decided to recommend that the Constitution be changed to allow for civil marriage for same-sex couples by:

  • Yes – 79%
  • No – 19%
  • No opinion – 1%

The members of the Convention were also asked what form the amendment should take. Delegates were given the option of voting that the amendment be:

  • permissive (‘the State may enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’);
  • directive (‘the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’);

On this matter the Convention decided:

  • Permissive – 17%
  • Directive – 78%
  • No opinion – 1%

A final question asked delegates if they agreed, disagreed or had no opinion that ‘having regard to the changed arrangements in relation to marriage, the State shall enact laws incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children’.On this question the Convention decided:

  • Yes – 81%
  • No – 12%
  • No opinion – 2%

Full press release on vote result (PDF)

While many of us are certainly delighted with today’s result it really is only the beginning of the process towards a Referendum on Same Sex Marriage in Ireland. The Convention will send a report to the Houses of the Oireachtas. That will take about two months going by the first report issued by the Convention on lowering the voting age and the presidential term.

The Oireachtas then has 4 months to respond as set out by the Terms of Reference

“the Government will provide in the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Convention within four months and, if accepting the recommendation, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for the holding of any related referendum”

So that means we will find out in about 6 months when the referendum will be held. We then have to allow for the Local and European Elections in May 2014, meaning that unless the referendum is held at the same time (could be an idea to raise turnout) it probably will be held in the Autumn of 2014. This could be a very long campaign, just like the Scottish Referendum Campaign!!

This of course raises many issues. How will TV and Radio cover it?

During the week Una Mullally raise some very valid points on this.

The main problem with how the Irish media frames the debate is around a skewed view of what ‘balance’ is. ‘Middle Ireland’, the ‘silent majority’, the ‘mainstream’, gay people are told, are not ready for something so drastic as equality. I don’t know about you, but I never actually hear that middle ground. What I hear again and again is yet another articulate gay person trying to hold their temper while they are subjected to ignorant and juvenile arguments. And I hear an opposing view, generally one from the far out end of Catholicism, blustering about children’s rights (which Civil Partnership denies, thank you very much), and trying desperately to fight against equality with arguments based on their own personal belief systems or grievances. I don’t hear middle Ireland. I don’t hear a middle ground. I don’t hear the mainstream. I don’t hear the 71% of Irish people who believe the Irish government should amend the law to provide civil marriages for same-sex couples, or the 75% who said they would vote yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, or the 72% who believe that denying civil marriage to same-sex couples is a form of discrimination*. I don’t hear the voices of teenagers and grannies who think “I don’t mind, actually.” All I hear is hate.

Constructing polarised conversations for the sake of ‘good radio’, ‘watchable TV’, ‘lively debate’, or an urge to get a radio programme or TV show’s hashtag trending doesn’t serve anyone because no real information emerges. All you come away with is conflict and division. Facts and reason are drowned out by emotional arguments and inaccuracies. It’s pointless. And while listening to Pat Kenny’s radio programme yesterday morning where the editor of GCN, Brian Finnegan, was met with bizarre anti-equality arguments from Gerry Fahey, a sickening feeling resurfaced. Because there is something more insidiously harmful going on. Broadcasters will cite ‘balance’ as a defense for allowing these views to be broadcast. But I’m sorry, there is nothing balanced about someone going on air and voicing opinions that are hateful and discriminatory. The pro-marriage equality side doesn’t do that, yet the anti side seems to have a free pass to bang on about whatever paper thin argument, conspiracy theory, or downright homophobic view they want. I am OVER it.

Gay-bashing, gay marriage, and how the media needs to get a grip – Irish Times do read the full article as it does highlight what will be a major issue during the campaign, which I’m sure will remind some people of the referendums on Abortion and Divorce in Ireland.

With polling showing that 72% of people are in favour of allowing Same Sex Marriage in Ireland any major campaign on this must take heed of what happened in the Children’s Rights Referendum last year. Polling there also showed that over 70% were in favour of that, but in the end it passed with a 58% yes vote on a 33% turnout, which is much lower then how the polling predicted it with go.

Any campaign will not only have to win the argument (which today shows it certainly can), but will have to make sure that it can get the vote out and of course make sure that young people (and members of the LGBT community), who are the largest group that back this change, are registered to vote!

That will be the biggest challenge.

It can be done.

It will be done!

This is only the beginning,

but it will happen.

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Donegal South West By-Election: FG in the starting blocks.

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Image via Wikipedia

Fine Gael is set to hold its Convention for the Donegal South West By-election on February 15th. Joe McHugh TD (Donegal North East) has been appointed Director of Elections for the bye-election for Fine Gael.

This will be a very interesting race considering the goings on over the budget at the County Council. Fianna Fail might not be too popular, but with it being a Fianna Fail seat up for grabs who knows what will happen.

I said before that it will be a local councillor selected (either Terrence Slowey or Barry O’Neill) and also last year I called the election for Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty. Nothing has really made me change my mind yet.

Of course we don’t know yet who the Fianna Fail nominee is, and that could change my mind.

Let see how it goes!

UPDATE: I may be wrong about who will be the nominee. I am hearing a new candidate will be put forward, and they are not currently elected. Not are they a cleberity! We will have to wait and see!

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Cork South Central LEA: FG running two candidates!!!

Yes, I am delighted! I attended the Cork South Central convention last Friday in Ballphehane Community Centre. I did keep people on twitter informed of the happenings at it. At the Convention both sitting Councillor Denis (Dino Cregan) and Emmet O’Halloran seeked nominations and I was delighted when we were told that we would be running two candidates, something which I had hoped for!

Best of luck to the two candidates who gave brilliant speeches on the night. Its down to hard graft and knocking no doors now!

A little info on the candidates:
Denis Cregan is a former Senator and former Lord Mayor Cork. He has been on Cork City Council since 1979 and is deeply committed to Cork and local democracy. He is best known for being the proprietor of “Dino’s” a fast food chain.

Emmet O’Halloran is 26 years old and is Chairman of Turners Cross Community Association. He was appointed a Local Area Rep back in June and has worked hard since and in fact I have just got a leaflet in the door from him!

Again best of luck!

Convention Time hits Cork South Central!

Well three conventions take place in the Cork South Central Dáil Constituency this week. I have a vote in one of them, Cork South West Local Electoral Area . This is where it gets strange. I don’t live in Cork South West LEA, I live in Cork South Central LEA, in which I don’t have a vote! This is all due to my branches which are in Cork South West. They are Michael Collins Branch (Bandon Road) and UCCYFG.

Anyway the Conventions being held are the follwoing:
On Thursday 9th for the convention for the Carrigaline/Harbour Area will take place. Nominated are Cllr. John Collins, Cllr. Tim Lombard and Mr. Dave O’Byrne.

Saturday 11th sees both the Cork South East and Cork South West Conventions. Nominated in Cork South East are Cllr. Jim Corr, Clrr Laura McGonigle and Mr. Des Cahill. Nominated in Cork South West are Cllr. Brian Birmingham, Cllr. John Buttimer and Mr. Barry Keane.

I won’t make the meeting on Thursday night due to work but will be at the conventions on Saturday where I have a vote. I am glad to see Fine Gael putting forward three candidates in those three LEA’s and I hope they put at least two forward in Cork South Central LEA.

Also I hear Fianna Fail will not be holding local conventions and instead head office (Coughlan from what I hear) will be selecting the candidates. There is democracy at work!

Convention for Ireland South Euro Constituency, which will be contested, will hopefully be happening before Christmas.

UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities

I should have picked up on this alot earlier. But anyway 20 coutries have ratified the Convention meaning it can enter into force so who are these twenty enlightened countries?

Bangladesh – 30 November 2007
Croatia – 15 August 2007
Cuba – 6 September 2007
Ecuador – 3 April 2008
El Salvador – 14 December 2007
Gabon – 1 October 2007
Guinea – 8 February 2008
Hungary – 20 July 2007
India – 1 October 2007
Jamaica – 30 March 2007
Jordan – 31 March 2008
Mexico – 17 December 2007
Namibia – 4 December 2007
Nicaragua – 7 December 2007
Panama – 7 August 2007
Peru – 30 January 2008
San Marino – 22 February 2008
South Africa – 30 November 2007
Spain – 3 December 2007
Tunisia – 2 April 2008

Now I must say some of these countries to not instantly spring to mind when thinking of countries that might sign up for it! Only one of the twenty seven EU Member States has ratified the Convention which was opened for signature over a year ago (30 March 2007).

Ireland signed the convention on the 30th of March last year, but there is still no sign of legislation forthcoming to allow us to ratify the treaty.

Here some information on the Convention. Links at the end of the post (As usual!)

There are eight guiding principles that underlie the Convention and each one of its specific articles:

* Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
* Non-discrimination
*Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
* Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
* Equality of opportunity
* Accessibility
* Equality between men and women
* espect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities

The convention will become legally binding on 3 May.

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Links:
Secretary-General Ban hails entry into force of treaty on disability rights – UN News Centre
CONVENTION on the RIGHTS of PERSONS with DISABILITIES
List of Signatories and RatificationsUNEnable