Saturday 10 December 2016

A new beginning: 'Rainbow nation' Ireland makes history

* Historic Yes for gay marriage after surge in youth vote
* Coalition plans to cash in on new feel-good factor
* Martin safe as FF to win by-election

Jody Corcoran and Daniel McConnell

Published 24/05/2015 | 02:30

The Government plans to capitalise on euphoria surrounding the success of the Marriage Equality Referendum to draw a line under protests at austerity measures such as water charges.

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The resounding victory of the Coalition's same-sex marriage campaign has emboldened Fine Gael and Labour in the view that Ireland is now ready to move on from the politics of protest and embrace a more positive new era.

But the Government's intention has already been dealt a serious blow. Last night, Fianna Fail was firmly on course to score a notable victory in the Carlow/Kilkenny by-election, in which the two Government party candidates looked set to suffer a heavier than expected defeat.

Read more: When my 94-year-old gran heard I was gay, she replied 'And? So what?'

In the Marriage Equality Referendum, however, a large majority of 62pc voted Yes and 38pc voted No. The total valid poll was 1,935,907.

The margin of victory was last night being attributed to the emergence of a new generation of young voters. Politicians are this weekend re-assessing the changed landscape to take account of an insurgent youth vote.

The referendum changes the Constitution so that marriages between two people would be legal "without distinction as to their sex."

As counting continued into the evening, the only constituency to so far vote No was Roscommon/South Leitrim, by a margin of 51.4pc to 48.6pc.

Thomas McDermott and Sara Jane Flynn pictured celebrating the yEs result. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Thomas McDermott and Sara Jane Flynn pictured celebrating the yEs result. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Yvonne Naughton and Nicole Priebel pictured celebrating the yEs result. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Yvonne Naughton and Nicole Priebel pictured celebrating the yEs result. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
People celebrate the Yes vote on the streets outside Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
David Norris speaks to the crowd without a microphone in the Upper yard of Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Amber Rose Tobin from Dublin celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Two girls celebrate the Yes Vote outside Dublin city hall on Dame Street in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 23/5/2015
Deirdre Nally, left and Fiona Dullaghan celebrate the Yes Vote outside Dublin city hall on Dame Street in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 23/5/2015
People celebrate the Yes Vote outside Dublin city hall on Dame Street in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 23/5/2015
David Norris speaks to the crowd without a microphone in the Upper yard of Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Ministers Leo Varadkar, Frances Fitzgerald, Simon Coveny and Deputy Jerry Buttimer celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tainiste Joan Burton at the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Senator Katherine Zappone and Deputy Jerry Buttimer celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Celebrating after announcing the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015

Read more: Gay couples can now 'live in our shelter and not in our shadow' following #MarRef result - Taoiseach

The Presidential Age Referendum, which would have allowed the age of candidates for the presidency to be lowered to 21, was defeated.

"I think this is a moment that rebrands Ireland to a lot of folks around the world as a country not stuck in tradition but that has an inclusive tradition," Ty Cobb, the international director of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group said.

The result was never in doubt almost from the opening of ballot boxes at 9am yesterday. The No side conceded defeat at around 11am. David Quinn, the director of the Iona Institute, said in a tweet: "Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done."

Sisters Rebecca and Rachel Doyle from Wexford waiting for the results of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle.
Pic:Mark Condren
Sisters Rebecca and Rachel Doyle from Wexford waiting for the results of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren
Ministers Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald pictured at the count centre in City West. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Eamon Gilmore pictured after he arrived at the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum count in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Brian McMahon with his daughter Lucy waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren
Waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren
Sisters Rebecca and Rachel Doyle from Wexford waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Michael Barron pictured with his husband Jamie Nanci from Dublin, [ they were married in Capetown five years ago] pictured at the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum count in the RDS Simmonscourt . 23/5/15 Pic Frank Mc Grath Irish Independent
The ballot boxes in the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum Pic Frank Mc Grath
Count Staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Traolach O Buachalla from Dublin pictured with Sen David Norris at the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum count in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Counting gets under way for the Kilkenny by election in Kilkenny this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin
Counting gets under way for the Kilkenny by election and referendum in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny this morning. Constitution referendum votes. Photo: Tony Gavin
Tellers Fiona Nortwood and Eimear Norton counting votes during the Kilkenny by election and referendum in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin
Boxes are opened as counting gets under way for the Kilkenny by election and referendum in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin
Counting gets under way for the Kilkenny by election and referendum in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin
Count Staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Count Staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Tiernan Brady Policy Director with GLEN pictured with Sen David Norris as they go through some of the tally counts at the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Count Staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
The ballot boxes in the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum pictured being opened in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Count Staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Count staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt. Pic Frank Mc Grath
Count Staff sort out the ballot papers in both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath
The ballot boxes in the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Presidential Age Referendum pictured being opened in the RDS Simmonscourt . Pic Frank Mc Grath

Last night, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said the referendum result showed the Catholic Church "needs to do a reality check."

Also last night, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, in reference to his remark that Ireland was the best small country in which to do business, rhetorically asked: "Is Ireland the best small country to be gay in? It's certainly a better country to be gay or lesbian in today than it was yesterday."

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Fine Gael's Director of Elections for the referendum told the Sunday Independent: "People have spent the past seven years saying the political system ruined the country, but the political system has worked here to reform the country."

He said: "What the result says to me is political parties need to reach out on an emotional level. I spent much of the campaign talking as a father, not just as a minister."

Supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the result of the referendum at Dublin Castle on May 23, 2015 in Dublin. Ireland looked set today to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote as crowds cheered in the streets of Dublin in anticipation of the spectacular setback for the once all-powerful Catholic Church.
AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the result of the referendum at Dublin Castle on May 23, 2015 in Dublin. Ireland looked set today to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote as crowds cheered in the streets of Dublin in anticipation of the spectacular setback for the once all-powerful Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Mary Lou McDonald ,Vincent Browne and Micheal Martin at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy
Celebrations at Tv3's Vincent Browne Special Referendum Results Show from the George Dublin Pictures:Brian McEvoy
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with John Lyons TD at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with Tanaiste Joan Burton at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with Dean McCarron at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with John Lyons TD at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
'Panti Bliss' aka Rory O'Neill with (from left) Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist, Rory O'Neill, also known by his stage name Panti raises her arms by supporters for same-sex marriage at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Senator Katherine Zappone (left) with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Same-sex marriage supporters kiss at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Senator Katherine Zappone (left) with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Senator Katherine Zappone (left) with Ann Louise Gilligan at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, after Zappone proposed live on TV as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Drag queen artist and Yes campaign activist, Panti Bliss is interviewed bare foot by news crews as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Supporters for same-sex marriage hold an inflatable Yes sign as they wait for the announcement on the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A man blows bubbles as supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the result of the referendum at Dublin Castle on May 23, 2015 in Dublin. Ireland looked set today to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote as crowds cheered in the streets of Dublin in anticipation of the spectacular setback for the once all-powerful Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage raise a cheer at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: A cardboard cut out of popular Irish television character, Mrs. Brown is held high as supporters in favour of same-sex marriage gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The quiz printed in the Irish Sun pushes 'offensive' stereotypes, according to an LGBT activist AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Actor Andrew Scott waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds gather for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin waiting for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Molly Croke, Adam Bowe, Lucy Bowe, Senan Croke and Sadie Bowe from Bray wait for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Molly Croke, Adam Bowe, Lucy Bowe, Senan Croke and Sadie Bowe from Bray wait for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds wait outside for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Rory O'Neill (Panti) meets with T?naiste Joan Burton at the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Also included is John Lyons and Aodh?n ? R?ord?in Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds gather for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Crowds gather for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
Same-sex marriage supporters pose for a photograph at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Aishling Dolan and Clodagh Leonard, Emma Skelly and Sinead Dolan celebrate the Yes vote in Dublin Castle. Pictutre; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
Same-sex marriage supporters kiss at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Same-sex marriage supporters kiss at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Same-sex marriage supporter Panti Bliss reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A same-sex marriage supporter reacts at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill (centre), known by his stage name as Panti Bliss with with Senator David Norris (left) and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss kisses Senator David Norris (left) as Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams looks on at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A gay marriage supporter kisses her rosary beads at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Yes supporters wait for the final result in the Irish referendum at Dublin Castle, Ireland, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill (centre), known by his stage name as Panti Bliss has his photo taken with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald (right) at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Paul Bonass (left) and Luke Hoare Greene share a kiss at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rory O'Neill (Panti) ARRIVING for the reults of same-sex marriage referendum at Dublin Castle. Pic:Mark Condren 23.5.2015
A same-sex marriage supporter poses for a photograph at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A same-sex marriage supporter poses for a photograph at Dublin Castle in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2015. Irish voters appear to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Bridget Hogg with a cardboard cutout of comedy creation Mrs Brown at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A Yes campaigner poses for a picture in Dublin Castle as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. Irish voters backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum marking a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday.REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
The sun shines as people gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Erin Reddy, Dee Campbell and Helen McCarthy at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Erin Reddy (left) and Dee Campbell at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Supporters for same-sex marriage raise a cheer at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Supporters for same-sex marriage raise a cheer at Dublin Castle as they wait for the result of the referendum on May 23, 2015. Yes voters were basking in the sunshine today as they gathered to celebrate an expected victory in Ireland's referendum on whether to approve same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 23: Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin as votes are continued to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of same-sex marriage wait for the announcement of the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage wait for the announcement of the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters for same-sex marriage hold an inflatable Yes sign as they wait for the announcement on the referendum in Dublin castle on May 23, 2015. Ireland appeared to have voted to allow gay marriage today in a historic referendum which would see the historically Catholic country become the world's first to make the change after a popular vote. AFP PHOTO / Paul FaithPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

Read more: Ireland overwhelmingly says Yes

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said that the impact of a huge number of young people who rushed to register to vote had made "an enormous difference".

He added: "It engaged a huge number of people in politics and it's really hard to engage people in politics and this did. And I think it's because it was personal to people and that's what made an enormous difference."

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said: "We need to give thought as to how to continue this wonderful level of engagement into the future."

However, Government joy with the referendum turnout and result has been tempered by the expected outcome of the Carlow/Kilkenny by-election to fill the Dail seat vacated by former Fine Gael Minister and new European Commissioner, Phil Hogan.

Fianna Fail was last night on the brink of a first by-election victory since 1996, a result that will boost the party's morale in advance of a General Ele ction and end speculation about the leadership of Micheal Martin, who will lead his party into the election.

After the first count, Fianna Fail candidate Bobby Aylward had a 4,828 votes lead ahead of Fine Gael's David Fitzgerald, according to an almost complete tally estimate, with Sinn Fein's Kathleen Funchion threatening to push Mr Fitzgerald into third spot.

Mr Alyward took almost 28pc of the poll with 18,572 votes with Mr Fitzgerald on 13,744 votes or a little more than 20pc; Ms Funchion received 10,806 first preference votes.

The referendum campaign has thrown up an unanticipated phenomenon in an estimated 60,000 young people who registered to vote for the first time.

Read more: Presidential age referendum defeated

Voters in the 18-30 age cohort are widely believed to have had a decisive influence in ensuring victory for the Yes side, although it is clear the referendum would not have been passed without strong support from older voters.

Yesterday, several Cabinet ministers welcomed the "politicisation" of a new generation of voters that is now expected to influence the outcome of the next election, either later this year or early next year.

Labour leader Joan Burton, in particular, is hoping her party will benefit most as the main proponent of same-sex marriage.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, speaking to the Sunday Independent, said the mobilisation of young people who were seeking to change the country was "profound." He said: "This referendum has engaged people, thousands of young people, who feel they can change the country. The challenge for us is to keep them engaged."

Mr Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay minister, called the vote "a social revolution". He said: "To me, this had the feeling of a social movement or a social revolution." He also focused in on the efforts of young people, many of whom travelled home from abroad to vote. "It just gives you enormous confidence in the future of Ireland that our young people are so open- minded and really believe in principles like liberty and equality enough that they'll come home from overseas," he said. "They understood from early on that this was historic and they wanted to be part of it."

Read more: 'F*ck Yeah Ireland!': Miley Cyrus and Joe Biden lead celebrities supporting Ireland's historic #MarRef result on Twitter

Buoyed by the outcome, senior Labour figures will now look to the election with a promise to propose another referendum to repeal the Eight Amendment to the Constitution in relation to abortion. Mr Howlin said: "We have committed to include the repealing of the Eighth Amendment in our manifesto and we hope the people will re-elect us to deliver on that."

In the Sunday Independent today, political analyst Adrian Kavanagh, of NUI Maynooth, says there had been a sense that the political system can afford to ignore, or downplay, issues of younger voters because of traditional low turnout levels.

He writes: "If this weekend's mobilisation of younger voters does result in a larger turnout of younger people at the next election, then the result of Carlow-Kilkenny by-election may offer some hints as to what the political impact of this might be. One of the big messages of this weekend is that the political system in Ireland will need to make a much greater effort to engage with younger voters."

Sunday Independent

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