By David Raleigh
Two of the government's cabinet have called on the public to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming marriage equality referendum.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, who was joined by Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, said he believes the ‘Yes’ campaign is deliberately "low key" so to connect with voters.
Asked on Saturday in Limerick if he thought the referendum would be passed, he replied: "We think it's going well. It's a low key campaign, but that's our intention. Obviously, a lot of people want to think carefully about what they do, but Simon Coveney is down (in Limerick) this morning and we're out with our (party) organisation, and I'm strongly advocating a Yes vote."
"In particular, I'm asking people of good will to come out and vote (yes) as well."
Asked about the Church authorities ‘No’ stance, Minister Noonan said: "Everybody is entitled to say what they think in this campaign. I think it's a very polite campaign so far."
"I think the Church, and members of the church, and priests, and every citizen, has the right to free speech and the right to take a view on this. There are a lot of genuine people on both sides, but I'm advocating a ‘Yes’ vote," he added.
Minister Coveney said: "For far too long, in my view, we have essentially segregated gay people, treated them differently, not allowed them to partake in the institution of marriage, like everybody else, and I think that's wrong."
"This isn't about some of the other things, that I think leaders in the No campaign are trying to spook people by; it's not about surrogacy, it's not about adoption, it's not about fostering or guardianship -- those issues are dealt with in law," he added.
Minister Noonan said he was "surprised" the Conservatives gained a majority vote in the British General Election.
"It's not our country, it's not our business (but), I thought there would be a Conservative (vote) increase at the every end, and that happened in John Major's time in the UK as well."
"I was surprised (Conservatives) got an overall majority, but I wasn't surprised that they're back in government."
Both ministers said they were in favour of public service pay rises.
The Finance Minister said the government's economic Spring Statement had budgeted for both investment in essential services as well as pay rises for the public sector.
"We brought out the Spring Statement and we allocated money for tax relief in the next budget for increased spending and essential services in the budget, and there is money for pay (rises) as well," Mr Noonan added.
Minister Coveney added: "Undoubtedly the public sector is right to expect, as the economy grows, that they would see a reward financially, given the role they have played in rebuilding the economy in the last number of years."