Marriage Referendum, Labour Party, Rte, Wicklow, Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage

Marriage Referendum, Labour Party

Five years ago to the day, Ireland chose love over hatred

Leaders of the Yes Equality campaign have reflected on the massive vote

23/05/2020 22:30:00

Five years ago today Ireland chose love over hatred as same-sex marriage referendum passed

Leaders of the Yes Equality campaign have reflected on the massive vote

On Friday, May 22, 2015, the country cast their votes in the Marriage Equality Referendum.And five years ago on Saturday, the grounds of Dublin Castle became a rainbow coloured sea of celebration, as voting results came in from around the country.The referendum passed by 62%, as Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.

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In doing so, Ireland made history and became a beacon of equality around the world.Irish people came out in their droves - and from aboard - to cast their vote that would see love triumph over hatred and bigotry.As the results came in, campaigners, activists and supporters gathered at Dublin Castle, spilling out onto Dame Street and George’s Street.

This weekend, many of the leaders and supporters of the Yes Equality campaign, which organised support for Yes vote, shared memories of that historic weekend.Dr Gráinne Healy, co-director of the Yes Equality campaign along with Brian Sheehan, said she and her colleagues felt a huge sense of “joy and relief” as the votes came in, and they realised that the referendum would be passed.

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You can unsubscribe from this service at any time. And rest assured that your data will not be shared with any other party.Early on in the day, it became clear that the people had voted “yes”, and the no campaign conceded defeat that morning.However, the official announcement of the win did not take place at Dublin Castle until much later in the day.

Dr Healy told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “It was a long day of waiting for the official result, but during that day, the emotion was incredible.”She went to the RDS, the counting centre for Dublin, and saw most of her colleagues there.She recalls: “There was such a release of emotion because most of us had been working in a small space since that January when we launched the campaign.

“And right throughout the campaign, I don’t think any of us had really let ourselves think, ‘It will be great when we win’.“Instead, we kept thinking, is there anything we’re not doing? Is there more we need to be doing?“So I think there was a huge sense of joy, of release, of relief. I was relieved.”

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As a result of all her hard work, Ms Healy was able to marry her long-term partner, Patricia O’Connor, in 2019.They were one of more than 3,200 same-sex couples who have tied the knot since the Marriage Act 2015 came into effect in November 2015.Dr Healy said none of her colleagues thought that they would win with 62% of the vote - “not in our wildest dreams”.

And she says such a swell of support shows that Ireland has become a country of acceptance and tolerance.And for the LGBT+ community, the vote of confidence felt like a giant hug.Dr Healy said: “For LGBT people, it meant that there was a huge sense of belonging.

“That day felt it like Ireland had put its arms around you collectively and said, you know what, we love you, you’re great. You belong.”Lead campaigner Ailbhe Smyth also recalls the feelings of joy and love felt by everyone on counting day.Ms Smyth told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I remember arriving in Dublin Castle and feeling this sense of huge anticipation.

“People were waiting for the votes to come in from each constituency, and I remember these great cheers would go up every time the vote would come in.“It was like these great big waves of sound crossing Dublin Castle, which was absolutely extraordinary.”

When the final result came in, Ms Smyth was standing on the platform that was set up on the castle grounds for the leaders of the Yes campaign.She said: “I remember looking out over all the crowd, and just feeling that we had done something really significant, that really meant something to so many people.”

Many others shared memories on social media, including Children’s Minister Dr Katherine Zappone and Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland Colm O’Gorman, who both played a crucial role in the Yes campaign.Meanwhile, co-chairs of Labour Party’s LGBT group, Aoife Leahy and James Joy, reminded everyone that there is much work to be done.

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