O'Loan 'appalled' by call for gardaí to support same-sex marriage vote

Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

FORMER Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan has described as "appalling" a call for rank-and-file gardaí to support same-sex marriage.

Baroness O'Loan spoke out after an article written by a senior figure in the Garda Representative Association (GRA) urged members to vote yes in the Republic's marriage equality referendum.

Writing in the GRA's magazine Garda Review, the body's general secretary PJ Stone urged its 10,500 members to support the change in law on May 22, saying: "We have long campaigned for equality for issues of disability, race, gender and sexual orientation within our organisation.

"The marriage equality referendum is the first time that many of our members will have the opportunity to directly support such equality in the legislative process."

Mr Stone added that members of the Republic's LGBT community had long suffered discrimination.

However, Ms O'Loan, who served as the north's Police Ombudsman from 1999 until 2007 and was made a baroness in 2009, said An Garda Síochána was designed to be an "impartial and independent service".

"This clearly is not happening when the Garda Representative Association is taking a stance on a referendum which is being conducted by the state," she said.

Ms O'Loan accused the GRA of "acting politically" rather than focusing on representing the "function and efficiency" of its members.

"I think it is appalling that they have come out in this way."

The Irish Catholic columnist added that if she was entitled to vote in the referendum she would not support same-sex marriage.

"I believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. I believe utterly in the rights of people of the same sex to enter into relationships, to have the same protection under law, but I don't think you act with integrity if you say a relationship between two people of the same sex is the same thing as a relationship between two people of the opposite sex."


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