THE referendum on marriage equality reform has been carried by a significant majority in Limerick.
The motion was carried at a percentage of 64% in the city and 55% in the county. Estimated turnout figures suggest that 59.2% of the electorate voted in the city, and 58.5% in the county.
In Limerick city, 64.15% - or 24,789 people - voted Yes. In the Limerick constituency, 54.75% - or 20,322 - voted in favour of the amendment. Counting has been completed the presidential-age referendum, but the votes have not yet been officially released until the official result in the marriage equality referendum has been declared. It is likely to be soundly defeated, however.
The Yes Equality campaign team were out in force at the count in UL Arena this Saturday, conducting tallies as boxes were opened and votes were counted.
Jenny Hannon explained that the team “had been canvassing for six weeks and up until the last two weeks, we have integrated the campaign in the county”.
“It was always looking tight, both in the city and county. The reason why there has been such a strong Yes vote in Limerick City North is because it is a relevant issue for people who live there, as a lot of the LGBT community live in those areas. So it was a community-based issue. And people really believed that had the opportunity to make a change in society. We did convert the undecided and the soft nos,” she explained.
One member of the team, who goes by the name of Billie, got down on one knee to propose to her long term girlfriend Kate Stoica after the result became clear.
“Kate we make a great team. I love you inside and out, head to toe I don’t want to waste another minute of my life without you as my wife,” said Billie.
“I’d been planning this with my friends, but only for the past four days. I didn’t want to ask if it was going to be a No result, so I came today not knowing if I was going to be able to say it or not.
“But I bought the ring and my friends helped and it looks like it is going to be a Yes so I thought I would ask while I could,” added Billie, who was born in Scotland but has been living in Limerick for the past 20 years.
Limerick TD Patrick O’Donovan said he “didn’t see any implications from a Yes vote”.
“It’s like what Frances Fitzgerald said the other week, regardless of the result, Sunday morning, most people will wake up and just got on with their lives. And now up to now, the people who weren’t given the opportunity to get married, can wake up tomorrow and start planning for a wedding. Other than that I don’t think there are going to be many changes,” he said.
Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan hailed the vote as “a very good day for equality and a very good day for Limerick and Ireland”.
“This is a good day for Limerick, Ireland and a credit the positive campaign of all of those involved in the Yes campaign.
“What is more important, is the key message of equality and inclusion for the LGBT section of our community in Limerick. Many people in Limerick will wake up tomorrow and this result will have little if any impact on them but for a minority it is hugely important.
“The LGBT section of our community will have gained equality, inclusion and respect. In that regard we all have won and in that regard it was also a great day.
“This campaign energised and brought a whole new generation of our young people onto the electoral register and into politics and voting for the first time. We need to keep them engaged. This results shows that change is possible.”
Maura Adshead, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics in UL, said she was “feeling proud. I am feeling happy. There are so many good reasons that people should have voted for this.
“Now there’s a huge resounding affirmation that when there’s a common objective, we can change things, and I think that’s so good for equality, I think it’s good for gay people, I think it’s good for straight people, and I think it’s good for all of its citizens,” she added.
The Limerick Leader will have updates to follow here on LimerickLeader.ie and in the print editions next week on the results.