Country's largest children's charities add voices to yes campaign

The heads of Ireland's leading children's charities have come out in favour of the marriage equality referendum.

This morning, several if the country's largest children's organisations issued a call for a yes vote. Barnardos, the ISPCC, the Children's Rights Alliance and a number of other children's organisations are launching their campaign for a Yes vote under the BeLongTo banner.

The organisation, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, is staging events around the country promoting a Yes vote on May 22.

Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos, said they have made the decision to join the campaign in response to some of the arguments made by the No side.

"I work with thousands of lone parents in Ireland. We know the circumstances in which they live, we know what matters to children, what matters in terms of outcome.

And every time I see a poster that says 'every child deserves a mother and father', what I see is a pretty sickening insult to the thousands and thousands of children and lone parents that love and care for each other in Ireland."

The head of the ISPCC said its decision was driven by the child's best interests.

“The ISPCC believe that all children should be valued and loved irrespective of who they are, their sexuality, and their household circumstances. Our decision to support a yes vote reflects the fact that a child’s best interests is at the heart of everything we do," said Grainia Long.

"We consider equality under the law to be in the interests of all children. Our experience of providing services to children has informed this view.”

In response to the campaign by Barnardos and others, the Mothers and Fathers Matter group, campaigning for the no side, said their position was about children's rights.

"Children have a right to know their mother, and to know their father, and to be brought up, where possible, by their mother and by their father – a position set out in the UN convention on the rights of the child," they said in a statement.

"The 'extreme' position in this debate is not to make that statement, but to oppose it."

The BeLonGToYES Campaign disputed Mothers and Fathers Matter's assertion, saying that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child uses the term "parents" rather than "mother and father".

They pointed out that the convention states in Article 7: "the right to know and be cared for his or her parents".

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