Saturday 16 December 2017

No 'opt-out' clause to let businesses refuse gay couples

THERE will be no "opt-out" for business people refusing goods and services for same-sex weddings, Tanaiste Joan Burton has said.

The Labour leader also accused Fianna Fail of "politicising" a controversy over delays on Judge Nial Fennelly's report about the early retirement of the Garda Commissioner precisely one year ago. The row centres on the Taoiseach's unexplained role in the matter.

But Ms Burton said she hoped Judge Fennelly will soon publish the section of his report dealing with the Taoiseach.

The judge has said he cannot publish this until an ongoing High Court case taken by Ian Bailey against An Garda Siochana is completed.

The Tanaiste was asked to respond to a call by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, for an opt-out on religious grounds for business people who had "problems of conscience" about gay marriage.

The Archbishop's call has been rejected by campaigners for same-sex marriage arguing that it would be a "licence to discriminate against gay people".

The Labour leader praised Dr Martin for the sensitive and reasonable language he has used to date in his contributions to the debate on the referendum which will be held on May 22.


She said that Dr Martin had been especially sensitive in recognising the different circumstances of families on the issue.

Religious ministers will be given an opt-out allowing them to refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies under a draft of the new Marriage Bill 2015, which will be enacted if the referendum is carried.

But Ms Burton was emphatic that this cannot be extended to business people who refuse to sell goods or services to gay people getting married.

"No, such an exemption will not be possible," Ms Burton said.

Asked about Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's criticisms of the Taoiseach's refusal to comment on his testimony to the Fennelly Commission, Ms Burton said this was an attempt to "politicise" the issue.

"I do hope the judge is able to make his report as early as possible," Ms Burton added.

"I think the judge needs to be left to finish his work and report as early as possible. I certainly would like to see the report in relation to the section relating to the Taoiseach published."


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