Thursday, 19 April 2012

An open letter to Catherine Byrne TD

Dear Catherine,

At the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, when the motion on Same Sex Marriage was not debated as those of us who wished to speak against the motion were studiously excluded, you congratulated the young man who spoke for the motion on his courage. Leaving aside my disagreement with a debate that refuses an opposition or the manifest unfairness of a platform that congratulates one gay man on his courage while refusing another the right to speak, I resort to this vehicle of an open letter for a more immediate reason.

As an openly gay Fine Gael activist this congratulations gave me cause for concern, even for worry. What are the dangers, for surely there is no courage in safety, that exist for being openly gay in Fine Gael?

I have confidently been a branch & constituency officer, a campaign manager at all electoral levels (bar the Presidency) & a County Director of elections and have clearly been lulled into a false and perilous sense of my own security. My exposure to Fine Gael has been as widespread as it has been trusting. Now I am horrified at the risks I have run & haunted by the fear of peril.

I badly need to know where these dangers lie so that I may avoid them. Is it solely at Ard Fheiseanna that I risk death & disablement at the hands of a group of militant middle aged homophobes with membership cards? Are some constituencies worse or better than others? I appear to have been particularly blessed with Carlow Kilkenny but maybe Fine Gael gatherings of Dublin South Central teem with skin-headed yobs carrying baseball bats marked "This Bat Kills Queers"?

This worry for my personal safety will naturally impinge on my ability to organise & canvass for the party, after all one cannot give one's best if momentarily expecting to be battered by some recidivist County Councillor and his cronies in the name of God, Eoin O Duffy & the dead generations.

This worry goes beyond the personal selfishness of liking my features in their current un-baseball battted alignment. I am not alone in being openly gay in Fine Gael though for obvious safety reasons as you can well understand, I cannot name names in the climate of fear engendered by your congratulations.

I can only beg you to allay my worries, help all of us stay safe & out of the clutches the stoners & bashers by having the courage to publicly delineate the areas of danger. If this involves naming & shaming some violent homophobes remember that the party is better off without them.

Yours Most Sincerely,
Paddy Manning

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