Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
The majority view in the committee was that a referendum that proposed to extend the definition of family would be divisive and, having created division, would not necessarily carry majority support. Rather than put our community through a divisive campaign the committee decided to examine whether the problems presented in the submissions might be dealt with by a combination of other less divisive constitutional and legislative proposals. I agree with that approach.
I also agree with the Deputy. It is a divisive issue and there are those who hold the view put forward by the Deputy. At the launch of the report it was clear that there were people who held the other view. There was strong division between the statements made at the launch. The Government established a distinguished group under Anne Colley, which commenced its work last February and is due to finish at the end of October, to report on how we should take these issues forward. Having spoken to Anne Colley recently, I am aware the group intends to adhere to its remit and have the report ready in the autumn or early winter. We must then consider how to proceed. I certainly would not rule out the possibility that we could at least start, if not complete, a legislative process over the winter.