Speaking at the Student Achievement Awards Ireland, Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan commended students for their ongoing campaigning for equality.
While addressing students at the event, which is held in Dublin Castle annually to recognise the contribution of students to Ireland, she took a moment to speak about the upcoming marriage referendum and the various student-run campaigns calling for a Yes vote.
She said, “I want to focus a little on one of the excellent campaigns you are running. I have previously told you that ‘Make Grá The Law’ is one of the best slogans I’ve heard in recent years. Indeed, I’m delighted to still be wearing the wristband I was presented with at your Congress a few weeks ago.”
She went on to address the importance of the marriage referendum, saying, “We have an extraordinary opportunity as a people on May 22nd. We can be the first country in the world, to decide through a referendum – the voice of the people – that we believe all couples to be equal.”
With the No campaign being officially launched last week, O’Sullivan condemned No campaigners for using “falsehoods” as a “deliberate attempt to confuse the issues at the heart of this referendum” using specific arguments made by the No side as examples.
She said, “I listened as people asserted that 80% of straight people in the Netherlands are married. A cursory examination of OECD data shows that to be simply untrue.
“References were made to a UNICEF report from 2007, which it was claimed showed that children thrived better with straight parents than with same-sex parents,” she said. “Not so – that report doesn’t even mention same-sex parents. Bizarrely, one of the No campaigners has sought to assert that in the US, census data shows a link between suicide and fatherless families.
“Thankfully, an Irish journalist, Mary Regan, immediately sought to contact the US Department of Health to verify that claim, to be told that they are not aware of any such census data.”
She concluded by urging students to use their voice by voting on May 22. “Over the next ten days, our collective job is to get as many people registered as possible. We’ll then have three more weeks to make sure that people vote,” she said. “This is a rare opportunity – an opportunity to put equality at the heart of our constitution.
“I’ll be working night and day to make that a reality. I look forward to working with you to achieve equality.”
© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.