Monday 19 February 2018

Overwhelming Yes vote shows a 'changing Ireland'

By Esther Hayden

Deputy Paul Kehoe.
Deputy Paul Kehoe.

After Wexford returned a landslide yes vote for marriage equality Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe said it was 'democracy at work' while Deputy John Browne said it is 'a changing Ireland'.

'It's brilliant that the people of Ireland had the opportunity to vote on such an issue which originated in the constitutional convention. Over the last six or seven weeks we have had a lot of debate. I thought some of the issues raised didn't touch on the referendum at all. I don't think the sky is going to fall in on Tuesday morning because we have voted this through.

'I want to congratulate all those who came out to vote, young and old. There was a huge turnout because it was a social question that Ireland was being asked. We are the first country as a whole to ever vote on this issue. I hope that the young people who came out to vote, many of them for the first time, continue to exercise their democratic right in every election. Their forefathers fought hard for the right to vote and I think it is very important for people to vote.

'The number of people who were added to the supplementary register was absolutely unbelievable. People wanted to play a part in this.

A lot of people came home to vote and I commend them too. They felt strongly enough about the issue to give of their time and money to come home to vote. People came from America, Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, Wales, the EU and from all over to vote.

'Some people are critical of people coming home to vote but I absolutely am not. It is their right as Irish citizens to vote.

'People talked about a silent no vote but by the same token I believe there was also a silent yes vote. People talked about people being afraid to vote No but I think the same argument applies to the yes voters too.'

Deputy Kehoe also praised the Yes Equality campaign saying they 'ran a very dignified campaign and it wasn't in your face. A lot of people started out voting No but ended up voting yes for a number of different reasons. It wasn't just young people voting yes either.

A large amount of older people voted yes too. They voted for equality, happiness, for making people happy in themselves and for letting people be true to themselves.

'From talking to families every family has their own tale to tell. People have their own stories and they are very personal. I believe this played a major part in this. In years to come we will realise what we did in this historic vote. We are becoming a fast moving society.

Deputy John Browne said he wasn't surprised by the vote and said it was 'democracy at its best. It's a changing Ireland. This was about people making up their own minds and not being brainwashed by the Church or by political parties. A lot of young people came out to vote too which was great. I think that young people are more inclined to vote on social issues.'

Wexford People

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