Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Divorce Referendum.

Wednesday, 23 March 1994

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 440 No. 5

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  3.  Ms Keogh  Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh   asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform  Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor   the groups, if any, he has met in the last four weeks in relation to the proposed divorce referendum.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  My consultations with persons and groups to elicit their views on the many aspects of divorce are ongoing. However, the Deputy will appreciate that generally it would be inappropriate of me to disclose details of those meetings other than to say that they have been of particular help to me in my aim to achieve the maximum possible consensus on the issues involved.

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Sometimes I am critical of answers given me by Ministers but that beats Banagher in that I asked a very [1136] simple question. Many Members have tried in vain to pose questions to the Minister on the divorce referendum and have been fobbed off, yet when I finally succeed in getting through the morass and pose a very simple question about groups the Minister has met, I get an answer like that. I find it most annoying not to receive a response to the question I have asked. Is the Minister aware of the less than positive vibes emanating from such groups? Is he aware also that among those groups are his partners in Government, the Fianna Fáil Party? This morning in the course of debating another issue, a member of the Minister's own party admitted there are difficulties in relation to the divorce referendum on the Government side of the House. Will the Minister be somewhat more forthcoming in informing us exactly what groups he has met and what advice he may have received from them?

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  I do not accept that I have fobbed off the Deputy at any time on any proper, appropriate and legitimate questions asked in the course of Question Time concerning the affairs of my Department. I am quite happy to answer questions, where appropriate. The Deputy surely must realise that meetings with various groups are on a confidential basis. They may well not wish to have their names, views and so on bandied about in the House. It would be quite inappropriate to do so and that kind of information never would be given without the consent of the groups concerned. I do not know what vibes the Deputy is talking about. All kinds of vibes are circulating on the divorce issue, some favourable, some not so favourable. That is what the divorce campaign will be about. It will be up to those groups and Deputies who support the issue to make their position clear, regardless of which side of the House they are on. I have no doubt they will do so. As far as the Government is concerned the Programme for Government clearly lays down support for a referendum on divorce and advocates that position as I do. The Deputy, her party and, indeed, all [1137] parties and Deputies will have an opportunity when the campaign gets under way to state clearly their position rather than fobbing off the issue as some are doing.

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Is the Minister admitting——

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  I know the Deputy's party is a staunch supporter of the issue.

Ms Keogh: Information on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  Zoom on Helen Catherine Anne Keogh  ——that he is not getting the full backing of his colleagues in Government or from Government backbenchers? It is obvious the Minister will not be able to bring a divorce campaign to a successful conclusion unless he gets that backing.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor  Zoom on Mervyn Taylor  I am not admitting that I am not getting that backing; I am getting the full support of the Government on that issue. The Deputy is doing no service to the objective of having a successful conclusion to the divorce referendum by suggesting otherwise.


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