A county councillor has told how she was “emotionally bullied” in the lead-up to a vote on marriage rights for gays.
Labour’s Gillian Wharton-Slattery (pictured) had to switch off her phone on Sunday because she “couldn’t take” another call criticising her support for same-sex couples.
Councillors in Kerry yesterday supported the married mother of two’s motion by an 18 to seven majority, becoming the 14th local authority in the State to support same-sex marriages.
One councillor abst-ained and another was absent.
Similar motions have been passed by Dublin, Cork and Waterford city councils and by South Dublin, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, Wexford, Kilkenny and Louth county councils.
Four town and borough councils – Ardee, Mullingar, Castlebar and Clonmel – have also voted in favour.
Ms Wharton-Slattery said: “It’s been a very stressful and emotional week, but I’m delighted I got the support of the majority of my colleagues.”
She said pressure was put on her during the week to “water down” her motion, and she had received a “rigorous going-over” from people over the issue.
But she said she was proud to have brought the motion before the council.
“I’m not a nasty person, and maybe I was naive to think other people would be as open-minded as I was, but I didn’t realise how difficult some people are to deal with,” she said.
“There was so much pressure on me coming from all sides. One person said I’d never get elected again when I started ‘dancing with gays in the chamber’.”
The motion was seconded by Sinn Fein’s Toireasa Ferris, who hoped she would not be “ash-amed and disgusted” of how members voted, making the council “a laughing stock for the second time in a month”, a reference to Danny Healy-Rae’s controversial drink-drive permit motion at the last meeting.
Mr Healy-Rae was one of seven councillors who voted against because he believed homosexual marriage was not “natural”, but he added that he had “nothing whatsoever against gay or lesbian people”.
His son, Johnny Healy-Rae, supported the motion.
Members of Ciarrai Amach, an organisation for gay and lesbians in Kerry, were in the public gallery during the debate.
The group’s chairman, Martin Greenwood, said he was delighted with the result.
“We were not sure it was going to go our way, but the vote is an indication we’re moving forward. This is great news,” he said.
The issue will go before the Constitution Convention on April 13 and 14, and a recommendation will then be made to Government.
Cork City Council made history in July when it became the first local authority to support same-sex marriage.