Tuesday 6 December 2016

Historical Marriage Referendum has taught us countless messages, signals and lessons

Published 23/05/2015 | 13:40

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
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

Without doubt, there are countless messages, signals and lessons to take from today's historical referendum result.

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We know that the once unshakable influence of the Catholic Church over Middle Ireland has been confronted.

We know that social media truly is a terrifying force that can have seismic effects on the pillars of society.

But the clearest and most significant message of all has been sent to the steps of Government buildings.

The notion that young people do not engage in politics has been emphatically debunked - and Irish politicians need to take heed.

Even the obstacle of living tens of thousands of miles from the ballot station was overcome by so many young emigrants.

Many of them arrived early this morning in the court yard of Dublin Castle, determined to be part of a momentous and special occasion.

The Celtic Tiger generation has let out an emphatic roar and taken control of a referendum that, for them, meant  everything and more.  They had so much at stake in this campaign, and so much to lose if a No vote had prevailed.

But today, you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice, feel it in the atmosphere at Dublin castle - the youth of Ireland has come alive and had their voices heard.

For too long, they've been a generation that has been fractured, divided and confused.

Torn apart by the recession, friends divided by the need to find work overseas.

This is a generation, a group of twenty and thirty somethings, that has struggled to find its feet in a Ireland still nursing wounds received during the dark days of the recession.

That is why the opportunity to vote for an Ireland that accepts all its citizens as equals was one young people would not pass on.

The decision yesterday meant too much to them and their gay friends, many of whom spoke about plans to leave Ireland if the No side won out.

But watching this campaign closely, perhaps more closely that people realise, is the generation set to follow, the voters of the future.

What further steps will they take, when the opportunities arise, to bring further changes to Irish Society and its people?

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