Friday 30 September 2016

#HomeToVote - Irishman who travelled from Sydney to Dublin leads those 'home to vote'

Denise Calnan and Mark McConville

Published 22/05/2015 | 14:34

An Irishman who travelled from Australia to Ireland to vote in the Marriage Referendum described himself as being a 'mixed bag of emotions' as he placed his vote in the ballot box.

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Mark Govern arrived into Dublin Airport at 9.30pm last night after making the 17,000km trip from Sydney, Australia.

"I'm excited and I'm emotional, I'm a mixed bag of emotions," Mark told Independent.ie at his local polling station in Tallaght, Dublin today.

"I'm quietly positive the marriage equality referendum will pass.

"I'm very hopeful," he continued.

"Ireland could be the leading light as the first country to vote in full marriage equality in the world.

"We could set the message and the standard for all western democracies."

Mark is just one of thousands of Irish emigrants who have returned home to Ireland to vote in the historic marriage equality referendum.

The mass return home has inspired the trending hashtag on social media #HomeToVote.

The hashtag features photographs of Irish people surrounded by multicoloured balloons on the London to Holyhead train, set for the ferry to Ireland, as well as images of packed airplanes set to land on Irish soil.

Another photograph shows a group of 'weary travellers' coming through Dublin Airport arrivals in time to place their vote in the ballot box.

One young man, Kevin Beirne, posted a photo of his bedroom, complete with multicoloured bedclothes and curtains and wrote: "Came #hometovote and found my mum had made some subtle changes to my room for me #VoteYes."

Another social media user posted a photograph of the queue in Dublin Airport arrivals on Twitter with the caption: "The #hometovote queue in Dublin Airport this evening."

The hashtag is trending in countries worldwide, and was the top trending topic on Twitter in Canada during the day.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the horizon, because there is also a #BoatToVote hashtag trending online, documenting the journey of Irish emigrants getting the boat home to vote before 10pm this evening.

"About to get on the ferry. Let down your drawbridge, Dublin!," the official Twitter account for the group wrote at 2pm today.

Meanwhile, Laura Cronin, from Millstreet, Cork, got the ferry home from Schipol, Amsterdam on Wednesday evening for her chance to vote.

Laura, who is currently working with Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam, said she feels the need to 'do something for Ireland'.

“I’m working for Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam, I feel I’m promoting Ireland so I might as well do something for Ireland too,” the Cork woman told Independent.ie.

“It was important for me to get home to vote, especially when I know of a lot of people who won’t be voting.

“It makes me angry and sad, it’s a privilege to be able to vote,” she continued.

“I know of people in their late twenties and early thirties who are quite ambivalent, they have a polling station on their doorstep but they haven’t taken the time to inform themselves.

“I’m in another country and I’ve taken the time to inform myself.”

Clocking up 7,000km on their air miles, Siomha Brock and Colin Moroney travelled home from Vancouver for the historic referendum.

“About three months ago I decided to come home, I’m very fortunate, I work as musician so I have the flexibility to take time off,” Siomha said.

“I travelled with a good friend of mine from Bray, he originally planned to go home and, when I heard he was going, we both travelled home together.

“I also know of another girl, from Mayo, who made the trip home.”

Meanwhile, Colin made the choice to travel home when he first heard there would be a referendum on the issue.

“I knew I was going to go home, definitely,” he told Independent.ie.

“It seemed that half the plane on the way home were people returning to Ireland to vote, there was a great buzz.

“I know a few of my friends who are also travelling home to vote.

“At the end of the day it’s about equality."

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