Marriage Referendum: From Sydney to Vancouver... here are the Irish people travelling home to vote
With just hours to go before the polling stations open for the Marriage Referendum, people are arriving home from all corners of the world to vote.
Independent.ie speaks to five people who have made the journey to Ireland to put their vote in the ballot box.
To Ireland from... Sydney, Australia
Mark Govern is making the 34,440km round-trip home from Sydney, Australia to have his say in tomorrow’s referendum.
Mark, who spoke to Independent.ie while en route to Dubai from Sydney, is due home to Tallaght, Dublin less than 12 hours before the polls open on Friday morning.
“I decided to travel back a month ago,” he said.
“I only came to Australia last August so I still have a vote in Ireland.
“I was involved in the marriage equality campaign at home and was intently following the campaign from Sydney online and via social media.
“I decided that it was too important to me to not vote. If it fails I'd regret not doing all I could to help it pass and I don't want to miss this historic event,” he continued.
“I don't see us have a second referendum in the next 10 years if it fails.”
Mark said he doesn’t know of any other Irish making the big trip home but said the Irish community in Sydney have come together to form an ‘Irish Yes Equality Australia’ group and held a successful fundraiser for the cause.
“We raised $12k for Yes Equality here in Sydney,” Mark said.
“They are all eager for a yes vote to prevail.
“Ireland is already ahead of the curve in comparison to Australia when it comes to gay rights and if we pass this it will put more pressure on Australian politicians to introduce marriage equality there.”
Mark will be in Ireland for a fortnight before returning to his home in Australia.
To Ireland from... Amsterdam, Netherlands
Laura Cronin is currently working with Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam, but travelled home on the ferry from Schipol last night to make sure her voice is heard.
“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.”
Laura, who is from Millstreet, Cork, said she also has a few friends in the Irish community in Amsterdam who are also travelling home to vote.
“I really hope it’s a ‘Yes’ vote,” she added.
To Ireland from... London, England
Cork native Emma McGrath extended a trip home so she could vote in the referendum tomorrow.
The 27-year-old midwife and nurse said the ‘Yes’ vote is very important to her.
“I have gay family members and it’s also important to me to know that if I have children in the not-so-distant future and if any of them were gay, they would be treated equally to their peers and wouldn’t be afraid of being stigmatised.”
Emma said, although the news coverage of the Marriage Referendum was minimal in England, she noticed a massive presence on social media.
“I think it’s been more mentioned by celebrities and it’s so big on social media that that’s making it more noticed than the actual news coverage,” she said.
“A lot of the Irish I know in the UK are really hoping it will pass because if it doesn’t Ireland won’t be painted well in the international community.
“There are a few of my friends who planned trips home from the UK to vote. It’s easy to get home because it is so near.”
To Ireland from... Vancouver, Canada
Irish musician Siomha Brock took time off work and arrived home from Vancouver, Canada to put her vote in the ballot box.
“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 told Independent.ie.
“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.”
Siomha is also behind the ‘Be My Yes’ campaign in Vancouver, Canada which is an initiative to highlight people’s voices from abroad that won’t be able to vote.
“These people have a huge feeling of helplessness from watching all this from abroad,” Siomha said.
“The campaign has really taken off, a lot of well-known people came on board too like Laura Whitmore, Peter Stringer and James Vincent McMorrow.
“The video went viral after a couple of days, we were delighted.
“I’m going to be home in Ireland for two weeks,” she added.
Colin Moroney, originally from Bray but living in Vancouver, travelled home on the same plane as Siomha.
He 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."