Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn has announced he will be stepping down from Cabinet next week in advance of an expected Labour reshuffle.
In a statement released today, Minister Quinn said: “I want to ensure that the new Leader of my party, whoever that may be, has the opportunity to create their own team, on their own terms.”
He also confirmed that he would not be seeking re-election to the Dáil.
Minister Quinn has been politically active in Ireland for the past 40 years, as a Councilor, a Senator and a TD.
“Ireland is also a more tolerant country now, than it was when I was a young man,” he said.
Paying tribute to the out-going minister, Director of GLEN, Brian Sheehan said: “Throughout his political career, Ruairí Quinn has been a champion of LGBT rights, being part of the government that brought in decriminalisation in 1993, that initiated the Equality Legislation the mid-1990s, and in the current government that has committed to address parenting, gender recognition and hold a referendum on marriage next year.”
In his role as Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn paid particular attention the problem of homophobic and transphobic bullying.
“Ruairi Quinn greatly progressed the status of LGBT young people and BeLonG To commends his work in this area,” said David Carroll, Director of the BeLonG To youth organisation. “The establishment of an National Action Plan on Bullying, which included explicit reference to the responsibility of schools to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying cannot be underestimated.”
“Ruairí Quinn delivered the most far reaching change at school level through the mandatory anti-bullying procedures for all schools, primary and secondary, which fully include measures to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying,” added Sheehan.
Minister Quinn also worked to repeal Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, which allows religious run organisations to discriminate against LGBT employees.
“His work to ensure the amendment of Section 37, will ensure his legacy will have a lasting and positive effect on thousands of young LGBT people across the country,” said Carroll.
In his statement today, Minister Quinn added that although he is standing down, Labour “will go on to legislate to end employment discrimination against single mothers or gay and lesbian teachers.”
“And we will win a referendum to allow for same-sex marriage,” he added.
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