The Cabinet will today agree to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage, but it is unlikely to announce when voters will get the opportunity to decide on whether to extend marriage rights to gay couples.
Sources have indicated that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will agree to holding the vote “during the lifetime” of the Government with sometime in late 2014 or early 2015 being the most likely date.
Yesterday, Alan Shatter, the justice minister, said he suspected the Irish people were suffering from referendum fatigue following the recent votes of Seanad abolition and the Court of Appeal and he felt it unlikely another poll would be held in 2014.
“Having been in the Dáil for many years I can’t recall so many referenda taking place within such a short space of time on so many important issues. It may well be the case that 2014 is a referendum-free year and if we have further referenda take place, possibly they should be in 2015,” he said.
The issue is expected to be discussed at some length at tonight’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting and many backbench TDs are expected to voice their concerns that following the wallop delivered by the electorate in the Seanad referendum and the divisive debate on the abortion bill, it is now time to concentrate on economic issues.
Enda Kenny, who is not believed to be keen on a poll, has not clearly stated his views on gay marriage while Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has staked much of his political reputation on the issue, describing gay marriage as the civil rights issue of this generation.
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