Independent member of the Irish parliament, Mattie McGrath, has called on former President Mary McAleese to desist from characterising those advocating a No vote in the same sex marriage referendum as homophobic or bigoted. Deputy McGrath made his comments after Mrs McAleese yesterday referred to the “bog standard, Irish Catholic attitude to gay people,” as one full of bias and prejudice
“I think the kind of language that was used by Mary McAleese yesterday is incredibly offensive and patronising in the extreme”, McGrath said.
“To characterise a traditional view, even if one legitimately disagrees with that view, in such a grossly hurtful way is beneath the great dignity that one would normally associate with her.
Referring to another notorious intervention in the debate last week by a psychologist, Maureen Gaffney, supporting the Yes campaign, the Deputy said, “It seems however that over the top and absurd descriptions are becoming par for the course since Dr Gaffney described those on the No side as morally equivalent to Nazi’s.”
McGrath said he was alarmed that she has seen fit, as a member of the Council of State – a position she holds ex officio as a former President – to make such high profile and derogatory interventions with little or no regard to how that role will be undermined.
“I accept entirely that as a mother of a gay son she is passionate about this issue, as we all are for different reasons, but that does not give us carte blanche to use this kind of demeaning language.
McGrath complained that McAleese has breached “a long, noble and well established precedent for former Presidential Office Holders to maintain a prudent discretion about Government policy.
“In contrast to Mrs McAleese we have heard nothing from former President Mary Robinson, who on the face of it is far more qualified to offer guidance on this matter given her role as UN Human Rights High Commissioner and who could confirm that no ‘right’ to marry a person of the same sex exists in UN Declarations or Protocols.
He called on McAleese “to immediately withdraw her remarks about bog standard catholic views, which if they were spoken in the north of Ireland could easily be characterised as sectarian and divisive”