Wednesday 24 January 2018

'I'm vacillating between ecstatic and numb at the result' says prominent Yes campaigner Dave Roche

Ballot papers the Marriage Equality Referendum
Ballot papers the Marriage Equality Referendum

Bill Browne

JUST before noon Dave Roche, manager of the Cork Gay Community Development Project, arrived at the Ballincollig count centre to be greeted with wide smiles and hugs from delighted Yes campaigners.

Speaking to, Mr Roche said he was at a loss to fully describe his emotions.

"I'm vacillating between ecstatic and numb," he grinned.

"I did expect a victory, it was certainly well worked for, but I will wait for the official announcement before I let go," he added.

Something that has raised more than a few eyebrows at the count centre was the strength of the Yes vote across the vast majority of Cork's rural constituencies.

Mr Roche said he believed many people had "underestimated" attitudes within rural communities.

"I and many of my friends live in rural areas and we have seen at first hand how attitudes have changed over the years. I think there is a myth that rural people are set in stone. That is not the case," said Mr Roche.

He cited his home constituency of Cork North West, which he described as being "officially the most traditional in the country" as an example.

"There has been a resounding Yes vote there. We had a strategy of setting up hubs in all of its towns, so I am not too surprised at the outcome," said Mr Roche.

"I've always respected the Irish people's sense of fair play and generosity and I think that has been reflected today."

However, Mr Roche did admit that at no stage did he ever consider a Yes vote to be a foregone conclusion.

"I do think the No vote campaign set and led the agenda for a time, But, I also think they occupied a space was cold and fearful. We didn't. We stayed positive, optimistic and followed the ball not the player. That paid off."

Mr Roche said the resounding Yes vote was a signal that the LGBT community did not "exist as a seperate nation."

"We are part of this nation and this vote serves to really verify that. We are part of every urban and rural community, office block, garda station and army barracks. We are everywhere in the community and today is really a resounding acceptance of that fact. I am incredibly proud to be Irish today," he said in a voice quivering with emotion.

"It's been an emotional journey and I regret the collatoral damage that has been caused to LGBT people and their families by the vitriol from the No side. I can only hope that today in some way assuages that".

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