The Roscommon/South Leitrim constituency has once again bucked the national trend and returned a No vote in the same sex marriage referendum with some 51.41% of voters against the amendment to the constitution.
A total of 18,644 votes cast were against the same sex marriage proposal with 17,615 Yes votes. In a constituency with a much older conservative population base it was always going to be uphill battle for Yes campaigners and the voters seem to have been split down the middle.
Turnout was 61.5% which was well ahead of the last referendum on Children’s Rights when only 33.8% of voters in Roscommon/South Leitrim took to the polls.
Will Keane from Ballymurray spearheaded the Yes Equality campaign in Roscommon and he noted that nationally it was a great day for Irish history however he said “ a small majority of people in Roscommon decided that they weren’t ready for equality-fair dues, it’s their democractic right.”
Mr Keane said he hoped the young people of Roscommon would let the conservative outcome affect the way they feel about the county. “We are hameorragning young people from the county and I hope that doesn’t increase now because of this conservative opinion.” He was also critical of what he called the “deafening silence” from political representatives in Roscommon in relation to the same sex marriage referendum.
“I only have utmost respect for the political represenatives who nailed their colours to the mast-only Maura Hopkins and Frank Feighan had courage to come out canvassing with us- th silence around this referendum amongst political representatives was deafening,” said Mr Keane. He said however that he took heart from the fact that LGBT rights were discussed around the dinner tables of Ireland and Roscommmon for the first time and he also said the number of young people who had voted had signalled a seachange in political landscape of Ireland.
Fine Gael Deputy Frank Feighan said it was very positive that 17,615 people voted Yes in Roscommon /South Leitrim and he respected the opinions of people who voted No.
“Roscommon is a very rural county and I am delighted for the support for the yes campaign. A lot of elderly people and church going people in the constituency and conservative people voted yes as well,” said Deputy Feighan.
Anne Rigney of the Yes Equality campaign said it was a “bittersweet victory” as while referendum was carried nationally, Roscommon/South Leitrim voted No. “ I am estasctic that Ireland has said Yes to all our gay and leisban sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. It is an historic day for Ireland- I said thank you to the people who voted Yes and to the people who voted No-Welcome to the 21st century! Ireland has become a more tolerant, compassionate and welcoming equal society for all her sons and daughters,” said Ms Rigney.