Thursday 20 June 2019

We're all the liberal elite now

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar votes at Scoil Thomas Lodge in Dublin. Photo: Getty
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar votes at Scoil Thomas Lodge in Dublin. Photo: Getty
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

They said the polls were probably wrong. It could be another Trump or Brexit. It would be closer than we thought. And they were right. The polls were wrong. But it wasn't a shy No that was lurking out there, it was a shy Yes. The people of Ireland did not rebel against the liberal elite. We are all the liberal elite now. Or two-thirds of us, at least.

It used to be that there was this mythical beast called Middle Ireland that was apparently ignored by the wife-swapping sodomites of RTE and the rest of the liberal D4 media. Middle Ireland was allegedly a place that was more conservative than trendy media types allowed, and its voice was rarely heard. And now and again, the myth went, Middle Ireland would rise up, and its voice would be heard. And it reared up this time alright, but it roared Yes. It roared for change. Not so much a quiet revolution, as a firm resolution, that whatever their own feelings on abortion, the Eighth was causing too much hurt.

A gay Taoiseach could have been a fluke. And gay marriage a once-off. But now there's a pattern. Women, men, old and all those young people showed us there is a new Middle Ireland. And it is a Middle Ireland that knows that a gay person in the family, or an abortion, are not things that happen to other people. These are their sons and daughters, their brothers and sisters, their mothers, their friends. And sure we're all liberal when it comes to our own.

The Iona Institute and their gang will blame the media, the politicians, everyone. They like to say their voice is not heard, that they represent a silent majority of conservatives out there. But, it seems, they don't. Their voice was heard this time, but the silent majority disagreed with them. And they will claim it is tyranny by the majority, but it's not. It's just democracy.

But being liberals, we should mind to be tolerant of the one-in-three. They are not bad people. They do not hate women. They just see things differently. And this will be hard for them. And indeed it's not easy for many of the 70pc either, who agonised over what was the right thing to do. The two-thirds who constitute the liberal elite should try and accord the one-third the same respect liberals accord to all other minorities.

And maybe the old might start according a bit more respect to the young now, too. Let's stop dismissing them as a generation of entitled narcissists. It's their country now. They own the future, so let them shape it. And let them fix the mistakes of their parents, and make their own new mistakes.

It's not a day of triumph for many perhaps, but a day of quiet relief. And it's not over yet. To quote Rita Ann Higgins, "Ireland is changing mother/Tell yourself, tell your sons."

Sunday Independent

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