Senator attacks Minister over wording and necessity of upcoming referendums

Former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has questioned the need for a referendum to expand the definition of family in the Constitution after the Supreme Court extended some spousal entitlements to unmarried parents.

Mr McDowell told the Seanad that the Government’s proposals would see other “durable relationships” given the same status as marriage and he questioned whether this was either necessary or desirable.

He also questioned whether a durable relationship could include more than two people. Addressing Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman he said: “if it is, don’t just airily dismiss throuples or bigamy or polygamy or polyandry.”

Mr O’Gorman claimed in the Dáil last week that the proposals would not cover such relationships.

Mr McDowell said that in briefings to Oireachtas members Mr O’Gorman had suggested the definition would be determined in the courts.

He said this matter should be for the Oireachtas to decide and said it is “bad politics” to “say pass this legislation, and we’ll find out later what it means”.

Mr McDowell also argued that holding the referendum on March 8th, International Women’s Day, was a “worthless cheap gimmick” that means the legislation is being “rushed through” the Oireachtas.