Tánaiste Joan Burton has described no campaign posters in the marriage equality referendum as “sad and demeaning” as Labour launched its yes campaign.
The launches were ahead of TV and radio debates this week, with just two and a half weeks before voting day.
Ms Burton yesterday criticised the no poster on surrogacy which depicts a young girl and says she needs her mother for life, not just nine months. The no side claim a yes vote will give same-sex couples a right to surrogacy and a child would be legally ‘motherless’. The yes side say surrogacy has nothing to do with the vote.
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Ms Burton said: “As someone who is adopted, I find the particular poster about surrogacy really… It’s a little bit sad and demeaning and I don’t think it’s worthy of debate or where Irish people are at, to be honest, in relation to people who are not brought up in this perfect household that the no side appear to have a picture of as the only possibility of people being reared very successfully by people who love them, care for them and look after them as children.”
Her Labour colleague, Communications Minister Alex White, said there was substance in a claim by former justice minister Alan Shatter that the no side were using children as “weapons”.
Mr White said: “There is a danger — and you see it on some of the posters — that children are drawn into this referendum, the rights of children are drawn into this referendum in a misleading way and in a way that is not helpful to debate about the issue itself, which is about marriage equality.”
Labour yesterday launched its Make it Happen campaign, to encourage voters to be active promoting a yes vote, including canvassing older people.
“People say perhaps that people in older generations have come on a bit of a journey, is the phrase that’s used,” Mr White said.
The Green Party launched its yes campaign yesterday with leader Eamon Ryan saying it was the “silent voter” on the doorstep that was likely to vote no.
Party members conceded that the vote would be tight.
Greens’ justice spokesman Roderic O’Gorman said people would be returning from around the globe on May 22 to vote yes. “We are relying on the kindness of strangers to get our Constitutional rights. It will be tight, but I think we’ve reached a tipping point.”
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