McAleese son reveals pain at coming out
The only son of former Irish President Mary McAleese has spoken of how he delayed the difficult decision to come out as gay, partly because of comments made by Ian Paisley jnr.
In an article, Justin McAleese (30) revealed his experience of growing up as a gay man.
He wrote the piece to voice support for a 'yes' vote in the same-sex marriage referendum which will be held in the Republic next month.
Justin is one of three children of Mary McAleese who is from Belfast and was Irish president from 1997-2011.
Her son revealed he came out as gay to his family and friends nine years ago.
In the article, the Ryanair executive referred to the high-profile same-sex marriage of former UUP political adviser Steven King in Canada in 2005.
Mr McAleese says that he was "on the verge of coming out" when friends laughed and joked about the idea of two men getting married.
And this was followed by the impact of comments by the DUP's Ian Paisley, which he says were not challenged.
"So I stayed in the closet for another 18 months.
"Language matters, words matter, marriage matters," he wrote. Last week, his mother called the Irish referendum a "human rights issue" - saying she and her husband Martin believe that everyone should be able to "love someone for life" and have that recognised "at the highest level of Irish society".
"We want, in the words of the [Irish] proclamation: 'The children of a nation to be cherished equally'," said Mrs McAleese, who is originally from the Ardoyne area of north Belfast and considers herself devout Catholic.
However, No campaigners have criticised her stance, rejecting suggestions it is a human rights issue and questioning her views on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Belfast Telegraph yesterday attempted to contact Mr Paisley, but there was no response.