Sunday 18 February 2018

No side wiped out but for a few pockets in west and north

Massive surge of new young voters central to the Yes result

PENSIVE: Enda Kenny at the count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, as counting got under way
PENSIVE: Enda Kenny at the count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, as counting got under way
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

From coast to coast, east to west, north and south, Ireland voted with its heart for marriage equality, with six out of 10 voters - 1.2 million people - voting Yes in the referendum. The majority in favour of same-sex marriage was nearly half a million souls at 467,307.

Just Roscommon-South Leitrim out of 43 urban and rural constituencies delivered a No result. Even then, the result was close overall in the west of Ireland constituency, with 51.4pc against, and 48.6pc for. Donegal South West was also divided with 49.9pc voting No.

Other rural constituencies where the Mo side fared well but did not prevail were: Mayo, 48pc; Donegal North East, 47.5pc; Galway East, 46.7pc; Sligo-North Leitrim, 46.4pc; Longford-Westmeath, 46.4pc and Tipperary North 45.3pc.

From the moment the first ballot boxes were opened, it was clear that the referendum would be passed in every urban area in the country.

There were substantial No majorities in some boxes in pockets of the west and north.

One rural box in the Ballaghaderreen area of Roscommon near the Mayo border showed 217 No votes and 141 Yes vote.

And in parts of South Kerry there was a majority against the proposal in some rural boxes, though ultimately the Yes side carried the constituency with 55.31pc of the vote.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that a Yes vote will be a first globally and will send out a message of pioneering leadership from the Irish people.

Commenting on the number of young people who voted, he said that 60,000 registered especially for this referendum and made a real effort to express their vote.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who confirmed publicly he is gay earlier this year in a landmark radio interview, said: "This is a historic vote, a social revolution.

"To me, this had the feeling of a social movement or a social revolution because every night in Dublin West there were 50-60 people turning up to canvass, young people, young people in school even in some cases, gay men, lesbians, their families, people of all political parties. We knocked on every single door in Dublin West and that has never happened in a referendum before in my recollection.

"It engaged a huge number of people in politics and it's really hard to engage people in politics and this did. And I think it's because it was personal to people and that's what made an enormous difference."

He also paid tribute to young emigrants, some of whom came from as far as Australia to take part in the vote.

"That was great. It just gives you enormous confidence in the future of Ireland that our young people are so open-minded and really believe in principles like liberty and equality enough that they'll come home from overseas."

"They understood from early on that this was historic and they wanted to be part of it," he added.

The strongest Yes vote in a single area recorded unofficially from a tally, was a resounding 84.4pc Yes in Ranelagh, the south city enclave of Dublin which has a large population of students and young singles.

The best official result for the Yes campaign was in Dublin South East, with 74.91pc in favour and 25.09pc against.

But support was only marginally lower in Dublin North, with 72.61pc voting Yes and 27.39pc voting No.

Almost all constituencies in the capital - voted as high as 70pc and upwards in favour - the remainder were in the mid to high 60s.

Tanaiste Joan Burton expressed her delight: "This is something the Labour Party has worked on over a long period of time, starting way back in the 1990s with our moves to decriminalise homosexuality and then our support in recent years for marriage equality and civil partnership and now full marriage equality."

Former Labour leader Eamon Gilmore added: "I think the most impressive thing about the campaign was families. I think there was a sense within families that no member of their family was going to be excluded.

"Repeatedly, we came across people who said they were doing this for brothers and sisters and other members of the family."

It was clear from early on that areas which had the youngest populations recorded the strongest Yes vote - helped by a surge of first time voters registering in recent weeks.

This was a bigger factor than a straightforward urban/rural divide.

Cavan-Monaghan, which has an older demographic, had a strong vote against but in the end even the conservative border constituency still just about approved the introduction of same-sex marriage with a 50.65pc voting yes.

Veteran gay campaigner Senator David Norris was jubilant: "This is a resounding statement - it's not just a victory - and it's a statement to the entire world."

Norris thanked thousands of people who came home to vote on Friday with the #hometovote hashtag trending worldwide at one point yesterday. "I just think what a pity it is that we don't have jobs for them all," he said.

It was just before 7pm last night that the final result in the same-sex marriage referendum was announced.

The final total valid poll, after the exclusion of 13,818 spoiled votes, was 1,935,907.

Those who voted Yes totalled 1,935,907m while 734,300 voted no. That left a majority in favour of 467,307. In percentage terms 62.1pc voted in favour, 37.9pc voted No. The turnout was 60.5pc.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called the Yes result a "reality check" for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

"I think it's a social revolution. It's a social revolution that didn't begin today, it's a social revolution that's been going on, and perhaps people in the church have not been clear in their understanding of what that involves," he said.

Paul Moran ,of Sunday Independent pollsters Millward Brown, said youth had driven the result, if not entirely deciding it. Social media has played a central role, he said.

Sunday Independent

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