GRA defends yes vote call in ‘Garda Review’

The Garda Representative Association has defended an editorial in its in-house publication calling for a yes vote in the May 22 marriage equality referendum.

Former police ombudsman for Northern Ireland Nuala O’Loan claimed the editorial, which was carried in the latest edition of the Garda Review, exceeded the legal parameters of what members of the force were and were not allowed to say.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Loan, — who said that, if she had a vote here, she would vote no — said gardaí were supposed to provide an impartial and independent service and said “this clearly is not happening when a Garda representative association is taking a stance on a referendum which is being conducted by the State”.

She said gardaí were employed to provide a service to the State and therefore were a department of the State, and that the GRA was to represent the welfare and efficiency of their members — and that the editorial was “acting way outside that”.

She said it was “appalling that they have come out in this way” and that the GRA was “acting politically”.

However, a spokesman for the Garda Review said the GRA defended its right to pen the editorial and said: “We see this as a moral issue, not a political issue.”

The Garda Review article, written by PJ Stone, stated: “In a real Republic, all citizens would have equal rights to the institutions of State; marriage is one of these. Same-sex couples have long been discriminated against both in law and social mores. There are many members within An Garda Síochána who have family members and friends who are gay or lesbian; and are already committed to campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the forthcoming referendum, and we wish to remind all members that they have our full support. We have long campaigned for equality for issues of disability, race, gender and sexual orientation within our organisation. The marriage equality referendum is the first time that many of our members will have the opportunity to directly support such equality in the legislative process.”

The Mothers and Fathers Matter group, which supports a no vote, said Ms O’Loan’s comments “speak to a much bigger issue in this referendum campaign — that being the way in which all dissent has been intimidated into silence by a yes campaign that refuses to consider any opposition to it legitimate”.

Meanwhile, Conor O’Mahony, a senior lecturer in constitutional law and child law at University College Cork, has stressed “case law does not support” claims surrogacy is in any way linked to the referendum.

READ MORE: Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin back GRA decision

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