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By Caoimhín Mires

The Piano Accordion Protection Society, or PAPS, a newly formed lobby group set up to advance the meagre fortunes of the widely loathed reed instrument, has announced that it will campaign for constitutional reform so as to enable piano accordionists to legally wed each other.

Speaking for the group, Graham Nutham, himself an exponent of the unfeasibly large instrument, said that the group’s main target for reform will be the controversial precedent set by the unsuccessful 2008 ‘Foster & McCleland versus The State’ case, a legal battle that resulted in a Supreme Court decision which effectively bars piano accordionists from legally wedding each other.

The issue centres around the Court’s decision to interpret literally a constitutional provision for “marital harmony” in the home. In the landmark 2008 case, Supreme Court Judge Wayland Jeffries considered that one piano accordion in the marital home was permissible but already stretched the bounds of the constitutional term “harmony”, while two piano accordions, with their many conflicting melody voice reeds and bass notes, simply could not be considered to be in keeping with the spirit of the constitutional provision.

The reed-loving plaintiffs in the case were therefore refused the right to legally marry, a move that is considered deeply discriminatory by Ireland’s several dozen piano accordion aficionados.

The announcement by PAPS has brought renewed hope to other same-instrument couples who hope to be able to legally wed some day. Marie McCroody, a County Cork-based concertina player who has cohabited with her concertina-playing partner for over 10 years has voiced her opposition.

“I hope this changes things, because people don’t realise what it’s like for us. We can’t go out and play together as folks round here think it’s noisy and improper... and we can’t play in the same céilí band either; Mike, my partner, has to travel to play in a band in the next parish. It makes it all seem very secretive and we feel, well... wrong and dirty. Opposite-instrument couples who play, say, flute and fiddle, don’t realise how easy they have it.”

A Vatican spokesperson welcomed Ireland’s moral and legal stance on the issue saying, “if same-instrument couples are allowed to marry then the next thing you know the flood gates will open and anyone will be able to marry just about anyone else and lead happy and fulfilled married lives. Clearly we can’t be having that. There’s a decadence to the piano accordion same-instrument lifestyle that threatens the stability of normal family life and Christian values. I mean, what are the implications for children brought up in a home with so many free reeds?”

The moral debate seems set to continue.


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