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Irish Catholic counselling agency agrees to help gay couples

A marriage-counselling agency run by Ireland’s Catholic Bishops has caved in to government demands to offer help to same-sex couples.

The agency, named Accord, agreed not to turn away same-sex couples in order to continue receiving government funding.

Tusla, the government agency that funds family counselling services, will provide Accord with €408,000 for its services in Dublin and a further €1,184,500 for its courses nationwide.

A Tusla spokeswoman told the Times that its funding agreement for 2018 clearly states that government-funded bodies must be “accessible to everyone”.

“Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG has assured Tusla they will provide counselling services regardless of sexual orientation and comply with the agreement. Tusla will monitor service providers including Accord Dublin Catholic Marriage Care Service to ensure they comply with the terms of their service level agreement,” she added.

“If any service repudiates the terms of its contractual obligation with Tusla, we will have to take action to ensure compliance, including the possibility of withdrawing funding and commencing a decommissioning of that service.”

Accord previously had a policy of not accepting same-sex couples on religious grounds. It also gives sex and relationship education in schools where it does not teach about contraception and same-sex relationships, in line with Catholic teaching.

The Irish Bishops’ Conference declined to comment.