While I do realise that Ireland is not part of the UK, the two jurisdictions share many civil institutions – including the Church of Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church and the common law tradition. So readers might possibly be interested in a post by Fiona de Londras – currently of UCD and about to move to a Chair at Durham – on the admirable Human Rights in Ireland blog in which she reports that Eamon Gilmore TD, the Leader of the Labour Party and Tánaiste (Anglice, Deputy Prime Minister), has made a brief statement in support of introducing same-sex marriage in Ireland.
The Irish Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish a Constitutional Convention which, the Irish Times reports, will be set up before the Dáil breaks up for the summer recess so as to allow it to start work in the autumn. One of the Programme’s explicit commitments is that the Convention will consider “Provision for same-sex marriage”; and this obviously has the strong backing of the Tánaiste:
“I believe that in certain key areas, our laws are out of step with public opinion. I don’t believe for example, that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgement on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with. That is why the issue of same-sex marriage is to be included for consideration by the Constitutional Convention. I believe in gay marriage. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, its time has come”.
This seems to me to be of wider UK interest for two reasons. The first is that the Government intends that the 100-strong Convention should include one MLA from each of the political parties at Stormont, so might their involvement in the process help stimulate debate on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland? (Though, that said, will the DUP or even the UUP accept the Irish Government’s invitation in any event?) Secondly and more broadly, is the proposal in any way indicative of a wider emerging European consensus on the issue – even in traditionally-conservative societies like Ireland?
Éamon de Valera would barely recognise the place.