Government denies Catholic counselling funding cut due to referendum

The Government is denying that funding for Catholic counselling service Accord, which provides marriage preparation courses, has been cut because of the church's position on the marriage referendum.

The decision by Tusla will see €378,000 in funding for the courses provided by the Catholic agency withdrawn - thought it will still receive more than €1.5 million this year.

Government denies Catholic counselling funding cut due to referendum

The Irish Catholic newspaper claims the move will give weight to church leaders' fears that church agencies who do not support the Government's "agenda on the redefinition of marriage will be starved of funding".

A spokesman for the Minister for Children said the decision has nothing to do with the upcoming referendum.

Speaking this morning, President of Accord Bishop Denis Nulty voiced his concerns about the timing of the move.

"It's curious that a letter would arrive to use on May 7 … and we're talking a lot about marriage, the issue is in the ether, [and] would agencies like Accord, Catholic organisations … have funding risk if the definition of marriage changed?" he said.

However, CEO of Barnardos, Fergus Finlay, said his agency - which is calling for a 'yes' vote next week - has also suffered a cut in funding from Tusla in recent weeks.

Government denies Catholic counselling funding cut due to referendum

"I think it's a bit unfair to suggest that this is linked to something else that is going on - the idea that their cut is because of the Catholic Church's attitude to the referendum," he said.

"How then have we also been cut in the same time [period], since we are supporting the referendum? It doesn’t make sense to me."

The Mothers and Fathers Matter group, which is campaigning for a no vote in the referendum, said it was "a petty and vindictive move" and "attempts to deny what has happened here are a little bit desperate and extremely unconvincing."

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