'We're more than just sheep... and we shouldn't be demonised for No vote' - Roscommon-South Leitrim councillor
There is 'more than just sheep in Roscommon' says Independent councillor Kathleen Shanagher, who believes the people of Roscommon/South Leitrim do not deserve to be belittled because they voted against the marriage equality referendum.
“Not everyone has to share the same opinion… we’re not all sheep, ” the independent councillor told Independent.ie.
“Different people, different views. I don’t think it is very fair for people to single out Roscommon… we’ve as much of a right to express our views as anyone else. If you don’t like what [the people] voted for, fair enough, but that doesn’t justify being abusive.”
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Ms Shanagher was responding to comments by writer Marian Keyes, who, in the wake of the marriage referendum results on Saturday, told No voters to join their fellow 'bigots' in Roscommon-South Leitrim.
Ms Keyes, who has since apologised, posted on Twitter: “Tip?! I’ll give you a tip! Move to Roscommon/South Leitrim and pal around with your own kind. #OfHateFilledBigots.”
The author quickly deleted the post but not before many users expressed their outrage, including MEP Luke Ming Flanagan, from Roscommon, who described the remark as ''ignorant and thoughtless'.
While the State backed the same-sex marriage proposal in general, the constituency of Roscommon-South Leitrim bucked the national trend and voted 48.48 pc Yes versus 51.42 pc No.
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Speaking this morning, Ms Shanagher said she hoped people 'remembered what Ms Keyes wrote' because it was 'very unfair to tar everyone in Roscommon/South Leitrim with such language'.
“There has been a lot of sneering about the people of Roscommon/South Leitrim because we were the one red dot on the map but people forget that we’ve the oldest population demographic in Ireland.”
While the only constituency in Ireland to reject the referendum to introduce marriage for same-sex couples, Mr Shanagher pointed out that more people voted 'Yes' in Roscommon-South Leitrim than in both Donegal North-East and Donegal South-West
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“It is disappointing as a Yes campaigner to be labelled a ‘bigot’, especially given that 17, 600 people here voted in favour of same sex marriage,” said Leitrim councillor Martin Kenny.
“It’s a national vote, so it’s not fair to just point at us and say such things. We’re all one constituency for the day.”
“It’s just how the ball hopped on the day. If you look around the North West, there was a few places where it could have gone either way.”
Asked why he thought the vote went the way it did, the Sinn Fein representative said a lot of young people were gone from the area.
"Hopefully the No side will come to see that this referendum isn’t the disaster that some think," he added.