This Is A Family Show



Breda O Brien of the Iona Institute

Breda O’Brien appeared on RTE R1’s Morning Ireland earlier to debate the same sex marriage referendum with newly wed (in London) Labour TD Dominic Hannigan.

Mrs O’Brien, of the Iona Institute, was asked to share her thoughts on whether she objects to parenting (other than a same sex situation) where children are raised by family members.

Audrey Carville: “Breda O’Brien, for generations in this country, grandmothers have helped their daughters raise their children. Do yo do you object to that?”

Breda O’Brien: “No, and I think one of the really good…”

Carville: “Why, what’s the difference?”

“The reason that I don’t object to that is that our grandmother, helping out in a situation where…”

“Not helping out, raising. Living with the daughter, raising the child, what’s the difference?”

O’Brien: “The difference is that that doesn’t do anything to a child’s right to a mother and father. That’s actually the difference.”

“That child doesn’t have, in that instance, they don’t have access to their father. So what is the difference?”

“And we consider that a loss. We don’t normally legislate for…”

“What is the difference between those two people, raising that child and two lesbians raising a child?”

“The difference is that if a child has come into a relationship, where there are two lesbians, it has come usually by one of two means. One, from a previous relationship and the other is by assisted human reproduction. If it’s assisted human reproduction, it means that a child has been deliberately brought into the world without access to one half of her identity.”

“But what is the difference for the…”

“Because that doesn’t apply in the case of the grandmother..”

Carville: “…good of the child. The father in the grandmother scenario, the daughter’s partner, the man who fathered the child, he’s not, he’s never been there…”

“Audrey, you’re not suggesting, you’re not suggesting that granny and her daughter get married are you?”

“What is, no, what is the difference?”

“You can’t see the difference? Do you think we should change the constitution to allow grandmothers and their daughters to get married?”

Carville: “What is the difference in terms of..”

“Do you think we can sort that out?”

“…protecting the child and the rights of the child and the good of the child? What is the difference?”

O’Brien: “The difference is if we change the constitution, we are changing that mother/father model. A grandmother, raising a child with her daughter, does nothing to change that model because they’re not asking for rights to be married and to be considered exactly the same as a man and a woman who have brought a child into the world. A grandmother is helping out in a situation where there’s already a loss. Now let me just say, in a situation where the only parents that a child has are two people of the same sex, I think the provisions in the Children Family Bill for Guardianship are excellent, there are a lot of things which are not excellent which would be unconstitutional and I don’t object to that. But we don’t need to redefine marriage in order to achieve those rights, no more than we need to say that granny and daughter need to get married in order to raise the child.”

Transcript of exchange between Breda O’Brien of the Iona Institute and RTE R1 Morning Ireland presenter Audrey Carville earlier

Podcast of show here

Earlier: After Sport

An earlier version of this post misquoted Breda O’Brien. Sorry.

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88 thoughts on “This Is A Family Show

    1. Simplelife

      Why when the vote is on marriage, are children ALWAYS brought into the discussion??? What about gay people who WANT to marry and DON’T WANT to have kids?????

      1. Medium Sized C

        I’d imagine its because one of the big differences between Marriage and Civil Partnership is being able to be parents together.

        1. Miss Carroll

          Where does the proposed constitutional amendment say anything about “being able to be parents together”. In fact, any couple can become parents if they have the means – regardless of whether they are married/not, same sex/opposite sex. If you have the cash, off with you. Nothing in Irish law prevents that at present.

          But my question is – where does the proposed constitutional amendment say anything about parenting???

          1. Roj

            As far as I know, same sex couple cannot adopt children, they have to do it on their own, not as a couple. So the adopted child only has one adoptive parent, not two, as would be the case if gay people were allowed to adopt as a couple.

            That’s my understanding of it, at least.

          2. Miss Carroll

            Roj I can’t reply to your comment – that may well be the case re. adoption but that has nothing to do with this referendum, whatsoever. Which is what Medium Sized C claims above. This referendum says nothing about adoption laws, surrogacy, fostering or anything else.

            It’s about legal marriage.

  1. newsjustin

    Maybe BS should note that it was said in exasperation following repeated questioning from her RTE host about how a grandmother helping a mother raise her child was similar to two lesbians raising that child?

        1. sickofallthisbs

          You might also have a page entitled: ‘$hite obnoxious Broadsheet commentators say about people whose opinions are different to theirs’ seen as ye have no agenda and in the interests of being truly independent and impartial.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            BS’s political leanings and agendas are clear to see. Which is at least better than some “impartial” news sites

        2. rotide

          Did it occur to you while transcribing it that she didnt actually say what people are accusing her of saying?

          Did you just go with this anyway to appease the mob?

          1. Jordofthejungle

            You’re well aware that Breda O’Brien and David Quinn are adept at spin, smokescreen and most of all insidious innuendo. The latter is brought to bear particularly around the issue of gay parenting where they tend to play on base stereotype and hint at the supposed dangers of gay parenting. On Claire Byrne Live, Breda O’Brien outdid herself by suggesting surreptitiously that gay couples would effectively steal children off their biological parents.

            With the Iona Institute, it’s all about reading between the lines. The goal is not honest and concerned debate but merely to sow seed of doubt and create confusion however dishonest by the use of spin, oblique reference to stereotype and innuendo. As far as they are concerned, one has to be a little evil to prevent what they see as a greater one.

          2. newsjustin

            You have to look at what she didn’t say rather than what she did say, eh Jordofthejungle? And if you play her interview from this morning backwards, there’s a message from satan in there?

          3. Jordofthejungle

            One must read between the lines my dear. Iona know what they can’t really say to maintain the veneer of respectability so they hint and suggest playing on stereotype to sow fear and doubt. Not exactly difficult to ascertain.

            As for Satan, more likely Breda O’Brien to be an expert in his nefarious ways, lol.

  2. well

    It’s having the intended effect. She’s muddied the water and people are arguing about if it should be allowed or not.

    We have to remember this is a referendum about same sex marriage. It’s not about parenting and it’s not about incest.

    1. scottser

      she’s fogetting the bit about ‘according to the law’ which obviously doesn’t allow for incest. but hey, let’s not let a little thing like legislation get in the way.

    2. More_Bemuda_Than_Berlin

      This seems to be the Iona tactic. I heard David Quinn on with Matt Cooper yesterday evening and he was spouting completely different arguements to the ones he tried to make on the same show last week.

      It’s a bit like mud-slinging – throw out enough of it, add to the confusion, and hope that something sticks.

  3. bisted

    …never mind the webless summit…Breda and her buddies at Iona stand to make a fortune in media appearance fees in the run up to this referendum…who is crazy now?

    1. Marie

      That was exactly my thoughts when i saw that blogger guy on Claire Bryne. Anyone know how much does RTE/TV3/Radio pay panelists/experts for appearances? Would the Iona be paying their people too for these appearances, at very least expenses? I presume they pay David Quinn full time aside from this debate, any more besides him?

  4. Llareggub

    Is Breda not double jobbing here? As a secondary school teacher, isn’t she supposed to be on strike? I presume she gets paid by RTE for vomiting out this nonsense. Not sure how these things work but why oh why do RTE give her and Iona such a generous platform?

  5. Soundings

    It’s a legitimate rhetorical argument.

    If marriage is no longer one man and one woman, and is to be the contractual union of two adults of any gender, then why prohibit a grandmother from marrying their daughter? If you’re going to move away from the traditional definition, why stop at two unrelated adults?

    It is also rhetorically a straw man argument where an arguably-reasonable extension of an existing paradigm is extended to such an extent that the majority would vote against it.

    If the speed limit on a housing is estate is 30 kmh, but safety campaigners want to reduce it to 20kmh then the straw man asks why not reduce it to 1 kmh.

    If the age limit for sex or voting were to be reduced from 18 to 16, then why not reduce it to six?

    If the sentence for murder were to be reduced from 10 years to 8 years, then why not reduce it to 12 months?

    Breda isn’t guilty of anything other than plagiarising the arguments used in other jurisdictions to stop gay marriage – in NI, opponents have asked if we should allow a woman to marry her cat. You get the picture. You’ll see lots more of this before May is out.

    Classifying this as “shit” is irresponsible and will turn people off. If you have to resort to poop, you’re not winning the argument.

    1. Llareggub

      No, this is silly and pure ridiculous Soundings. Up until now, have fathers been allowed marry daughters or mothers sons?

        1. nottoputtoofineapointonit

          it is ridiculous that all citizens of a state are not afforded equal opportunities under the law

        2. Don Pidgeoni

          Or because there are already laws against marrying your family which aren’t going to magically disappear

          1. Joe the Lion

            LOL – really? Not where you come from obviously :)

            I would love the chance to ‘debate’ this lady

    2. Joe the Lion

      I won’t see any of it

      If I even see that mindless bish on my TV I will be throwing a brick through it

      1. scottser

        i have an old box-type telly if you want to fire a brick through it. no point wrecking a good telly between now and may..

    3. Dubloony

      This is not a random nutty comment from Brenda but part of the tactics that will be used.
      We can identify it as the “slippery slope” fallacy as defined here:

      “you said if A is allowed to happen then Z will eventually happen too, there fore we should not allow A to happen
      We need to arm ourselves for the on coming onslaught of the debate to come.

      The example provided is pertinent:

      “Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the ext thing we know we’ll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys.”

      We could play argument bingo!
      God knows, we’re going to have to keep our sanity listening to this tripe for the next few months.

    4. well

      This isn’t the incest referendum. come back when it is and present us a reason you want to marry your sister.

  6. munkifisht

    How does the lunatic fringe get a say on this issue? Their opinion simply doesn’t matter. It’s not reflective of any proportion of society. If I start to push a line that if gay marriage passes people will be able to marry themselves and go f**k themselves, leading to the end of society, unless of course GM crops and vaccines makes us all extremist asexual Muslims.

  7. whatdafup

    What is the response to counter arguments like this? It is so illogical I can’t think of anything to sufficiently counter it, without resorting to name calling

    1. scottser

      again, the wording of the referendum is “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.

      she’s clearly eliminating the portion of the wording that says ‘in accordance with law’.
      so insult away, she deserves it.

      1. newsjustin

        She wasn’t commenting on the proposed change to the constitution. She was commenting on the comparison made by Audrey Carville of RTE, repeatedly, that said there was no difference between a mother and grandmother living together and raising a child and two lesbians living together and raising a child.

        1. Jordofthejungle

          The point is the creation of confusion, smokescreen and this doubt. Breda O’Brien wasn’t actually making an honest or reasonable point.

    2. f-mong

      and that’s exactly what Iona want.. it’s a pretty smart media strategy, fudge and cloud the argument to the point of frustration, and when people call you crazy, play the “abuse” card. The only rational solution is to not respond, which day take as a victory. So they get to be the winner and victim all at once. It’s very smart. They’re crazy, but not dumb.

      The one thing you need is a platform that’ll give you enough time and space for you to spout your nonsense to begin with and luckily the BAI and Tom Savage’s RTE are only more then happy to provide.

  8. ahjayzis

    This will always be the problem with a constitution so restrictive it has to put minor changes in how the state treats minorities to majority vote – the vote of a majority that will neither benefit nor lose out from the change, making it very easy to just nudge them into supporting the status quo because ‘what if’.

    It’s profoundly unjust, and we’re going to have months and months of Quinn et al asking us would we prefer Mammy Daddy Baby or Man Man Child, dog whistling at it’s professional finest. It’s abusive.

  9. AliG

    This is more about crap that Audrey Carville said than the Iona Institute. People should respect and counter their arguments instead of passing them off as crazy. The approach of the Pro- SSM side in this debates reminds me of the liberals who still think George W Bush was an idiot. He played the fool and they let him become the most powerful man in the world. If people don’t respect the no argument and take the No side seriously this referendum may not even pass. Who will be the idiots then?

    1. Bluebeard

      Agreed. Engaging with the argument is a much more likely avenue to success. Unfortunately the yes side resort to eye rolling and smug archness instead of respecting the electorate by engaging. It is theirs to lose and they will unless they wake up and up their game.

      1. Odis

        Pretty much. If your argument is that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a ****. Then it not only falls at the first hurdle, you also really can’t blame your opponents for disliking you intensely.

      2. Joe the Lion

        I’m happy to engage with you all

        Your views are repugnant, in fact obsolete and despicable

      3. Caroline

        I’m a massive fan of smug archness but even I agree that there is a nettle to be grasped here. O’Brien’s position is fairly logical. It’s about as sophisticated as the no side gets, and it should be taken seriously.

    2. lerelah/therelah

      I agree with you that one should be respectful of another’s point of view, especially, I feel, when it’s different to your own. There is such a thing as being too respectful, or too much moderation, however. You can end up tolerating absolute and utter bollox attempting to be passed off as legitimate arguments.

      If Breda said that she had an objection to SSM because of her religious beliefs – that’s 100% grand. I can respect that & we’ll just agree to disagree. But I do feel that she is trying to steer the argument away from the genuine topic on hand into international bullshit waters with lines like: “Do you think we should change the constitution to allow grandmothers and their daughters to get married?” and she should therefore be called out on it.

      1. jeremy kyle

        Exactly it’s irrelevant to this referendum.

        The whole thing is specifically about gay marriages being equal to heterosexual marriages and I really don’t see how people can have a problem with that.

    3. Don Pidgeoni

      Agree to a point. Once people start with the marrying your dad/granny/brother/dogs stuff, all serious debate should be over

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Yes, although if Breda was a bit smarter she wouldn’t have bitten. Though its not quite what she said, I’m glad she looks silly.

          1. newsjustin

            True, but a few hundred thousand voters heard it and some will be influenced by her dismissal of Carville’s line of questioning. But as long as us yes-voters can have a circle-jerk around a lol-tastic meme that pokes fun at Breda…..sure that’s the referendum won right there!

    1. jeremy kyle

      “- the crime of having sexual intercourse with a parent, child, sibling, or grandchild.”
      I reckon that includes fathers and sons.

  10. jeremy kyle


    All this over the definition of marriage. Are we still living in the dark ages?

    We were supposed to have flying cars by now!

  11. Pixiehaat

    Or grandfathers and their daughters?….grandfathers get married all the time, and their daughters, and their granddaughters…and sons etc etc etc

  12. Frilly Keane

    Ah c’mon lads
    Did that post of mine seriously need to be cut

    ‘More tits than balls around here lately

  13. rotide

    THe more I read that transcription, the more I think that Breda said not much wrong (when seen from her POV).

    Carville asked a bloody stupid question more or less surmised as “what is the difference between granny and daughter raising a child and 2 lesbians raising a child”. O’Brien responded with ” we don’t need to redefine marriage in order to achieve those rights, no more than we need to say that granny and daughter need to get married in order to raise the child.”

    That’s fair enough given her objection to SSM.

    1. rotide

      It’s not really. It’s preaching to the choir alright but no votes will be swung either way by this.

  14. Tomboktu

    Iona watchers will like this.

    Iona made a submission to the Convention on the Constitution. It is available here:

    On pages 3 and 4 it quotes a report called “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do about It?” published by an American organisation called Child Trends.

    Iona says the key finding from the report is “the family structure that helps most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage”.

    The report by Child Trends that Iona uses as the scientific basis of its argument to the Convention against equality for gay parenting is available here:

    It says on the front cover (even before the title of the paper, and in large coloured print)

    Note: This Child Trends brief summarizes research conducted in 2002, when neither same-sex parents nor adoptive parents were identified in large national surveys. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents or adoptive parents.

  15. CJ

    Breda seizing the initiative with such a ridiculous statement doesn’t say much for the interviewer’s skill.
    Widening the argument beyond equality is clearly the Iona strategy to confuse the issue.

  16. Inopro

    Its nothing to do with kids really that is true, but where it did we ought still ensure a yes vote to stop discrimination then against kids within non traditional families.
    ‘Traditions’ are all well and good but only where others’ human rights arent infringed upon!!
    yes for Equality, Breda what you on about

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