Speaking in Arbour Hill cemetery at the annual 1916 Rising Commemoration, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told journalists gathered that a same-sex marriage referendum could be the way forward for talks in Northern Ireland.
Micheál Martin was speaking about the upcoming new talks between the Irish and British governments aimed towards solving the political impasse following the power-sharing collapse in the North due to the renewable heat debacle,
At present, Sinn Féin are adamant they want same-sex marriage and an Irish Language Act introduced in the region, however the DUP have repeatedly used the ‘petition of concern’ mechanism to block reform. Martin said: “The use of the petition of concern to block marriage equality or other measures designed to respect rights not undermine them is an unquestionable abuse.”
He continued: “We agree with the SDLP proposition about the suspension of the petition of concern as a basis for the immediate restoration of the Assembly and the Executive.
“An alternative idea, if this would break the logjam, would be an immediate commitment to a referendum on marriage equality which might be a way to deal with the issue,” he suggested, “and a large majority in Westminster would quickly enable the required legislation.”
Martin followed “Clearly, Sinn Fein and the DUP have deep problems with how they deal with each other as well as other parties. No matter how much people try to claim otherwise, they weren’t pulled down on high principle or to improve democratic legitimacy, they were pulled down to score political points.”
The political impasse has come back to the fore following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republicans. During her funeral service, Catholic priest Father Martin Magill challenged the politicians from both sides who were present, saying:
“Since Thursday night we have seen the coming together of many people in various places and the unifying of the community against violence. I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday. I am, however, left with a question: ‘Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?’”
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