1 June 2015 Edition
Resounding 'YES' to marriage equality
‘Do not forget this moment, when you chose to make your mark for an Ireland that could be a better and fairer place’ – Yes Equality campaign
THOUSANDS of ‘Yes’ campaigners cheered, hugged and danced in the courtyard of Dublin Castle before bursting into a stirring rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann as the official announcement came through that citizens throughout the 26-County state had given an emphatic thumbs up to extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The event was a macrocosm of emotional scenes in count centres across the state earlier in the day as tallies made it clear that the ‘Yes’ campaign was sweeping the board and the ‘No’ side conceded defeat shortly after ballot boxes opened.
In a statement thanking voters, the Yes Equality campaign said:
“To those who voted ‘Yes’, you have done something that should make you forever proud. Do not forget this moment, this moment when you were your best self, when you chose to make your mark for an Ireland that could be a better and fairer place. And to those who did not yet vote with us, we hope that, as lesbian and gay couples marry, you will see that we seek only to add to the happiness and the security of the diverse Irish national family.”
• Early tallies showed a clear 'Yes' victory
The vote was the focus of media attention worldwide in what was mooted as a historic moment for global LGBT rights. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, praised the result. Speaking in Ireland as he received the Tipperary International Peace Prize, he said:
“This is truly an historic moment. The result sends an important message to the world; all people are entitled to enjoy their human rights and human dignity, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) said the high turnout from young voters played a vital part in the victory. NYCI Director Mary Cunningham said:
“It was heartening to see the high turnout, and to see a new generation of young voters make a decisive difference in an historic referendum. It represents a victory not only for the ‘Yes’ side but also for Irish society, Irish democracy, and the young people of Ireland.”
Amnesty International NI Director Patrick Corrigan said the resounding ‘Yes’ “shows how a once socially-conservative country can transform itself into a beacon of equality”.
He went on to describe the North as “the last bastion of discrimination against gay people in these islands” and said the laws in the North are “a badge of shame to be worn by those politicians who oppose equal treatment for the LGBT community”.
While Sinn Féin has supported and pushed for the introduction of marriage equality in the North, unionist parties have continually opposed the move. The SDLP – who welcomed the result in the South – and the Alliance Party have sat on the fence on the issue and repeatedly abstained from votes in council chambers and the Assembly.
“The SDLP and Alliance Party need to get their acts together,” Patrick Corrigan added.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD described the result as “a good day for equality and Ireland” and thanked all those who had campaigned in favour of the proposal.
“Irish people have demonstrated that we are a decent, tolerant and compassionate people,” he said.
He added that Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for the introduction of marriage equality in the North.
Presidential age reduction rejected
The second referendum, proposing that the age of eligibility for candidates wishing to run for President be lowered from 35 to 21, was rejected by a large majority of voters – 73.1% opposed the move.
The NYCI expressed disappointment at the outcome, noting that the result was due, in part, to a failure on the Fine Gael/Labour Government to explain or promote the issue.
Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, whose party had supported the referendum, described the proposal as “essentially a box-ticking exercise” and said there were much more pressing issues which the Government could have dealt with:
“This was a referendum brought about by a government that failed to deal with bigger constitutional issues. Extending voting rights to over-16s, the Diaspora or Irish citizens in the North would have had a greater impact on our democracy.”