The Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, has refused to comment on whether he supports marriage equality ahead of the country's Constitutional Convention next month. While acknowledging the issue is an important one for the country, Kenny intimated that advocating strong family values was his priority.
"You'll know we have the Constitutional Convention upcoming. My own view on the matter is irrelevant. But I will say, it is an issue," Kenny told 429Magazine.
Kenny, visiting the Bay Area following St Patrick's Day celebrations in New York, outlined in a speech that one of his core three tenets was that Ireland be the "best country to raise a family." His Christian Democratic Fine Gael party is the only major Irish party yet to formally endorse equal marriage even though individual government ministers have given it their backing.
In Ireland, same-sex couples can avail of civil partnerships which afford them some of the benefits enjoyed by married couples. Members of the public will be among those debating equal marriage rights at a Constitutional Convention on April 13, after which a recommendation will be made to Government.
A long-standing court case is also likely to prolong the progression of legislation. An Irish couple married in Canada, Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, will have a case heard by the Irish Supreme Court later this year for the right to have their marriage recognized in Ireland.