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Ban on ‘Yes Equality’ badges in Irish Parliament sparks row

Nick Duffy May 15, 2015

A number of Irish politicians have defied requests to remove badges showing support for same-sex marriage in the Irish Parliament.

The Republic of Ireland is set to vote on May 22 on a proposal to introduce civil same-sex marriage.

The measure enjoys cross-party support in the country, with all major Irish parties coming out in support of same-sex marriage.

However, authorities at Houses of the Oireachtas have been ordering TDs to remove badges during sessions in the Dáil – under rules that ban partisan political symbols.

Labour whip Emmet Stagg and Dublin North West TD John Lyons both said they were asked to remove their small ‘Yes Equality’ lapel pins – as was Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald earlier this week.

The Oireachtas Code of Parliamentary Standards states: “Emblems of a party-political nature should not be worn or otherwise displayed within the parliamentary precincts, an exception being made solely in respect of persons attending the distinguished visitors’ gallery”.

However, equality advocates insist that the badges are not party-political symbols, due to the cross-party support for Yes Equality.

Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Joan Burton has spoken out to defend the politicians, as a row threatens to erupt over the issue.

She told the Journal: “If they’re wearing pins and they’re wearing badges that are supporting equality, which is what the Dáil meant to progress in Ireland, [then] yes, I do support them.

“I think it’s something that can be done by agreement and I think it’s appropriate. I’ve seen people in the past wearing emblems and I haven’t seen any issues raised and I don’t think any of the members not wearing emblems have raised issues about that.”

She recounted a similar rule during the Troubles, saying: “Obviously whatever rule is being applied, it’s been there for a long time, and really I thought it had perhaps disappeared because in recent times we’ve seen enormous changes in dress codes, dress standards and I think people who have been in the Dáil over a long period of time have accepted it.

“So I certainly would hope, given that I do see people from time-to-time wearing emblems, and wearing them quite prominently at times, that it would be the same rule for everybody.

“Either nobody can wear any kind of an emblem or it’s possible to wear emblems, particularly pins, which are quite discreet.”

Earlier this week, Ireland’s Minister for Equality was ordered to remove a pin supporting same-sex marriage during a TV interview to maintain ‘balance’.

More: Anti-gay, civil partnership, civil union, Dail, equal marriage, Equality, Europe, Gay, gay weddings, Homophobia, Ireland, Ireland, Irish, lesbian, lesbian wedding, LGBT, marriage, marriage equality, parliament, Rights, same sex weddings, Union, wedding

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