Longford Yes Equality campaigner says result represents ‘a cultural earthquake’

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Declan, Edmond, Donal, Mark and James from Yes Equality Longford  group celebrate at Dublin Castle on Saturday.
Four weeks prior to the referendum on same sex marriage, Yes campaigners were out canvassing, many for the first time.

Four weeks prior to the referendum on same sex marriage, Yes campaigners were out canvassing, many for the first time.

The group of about 15 or so people comprised straight and gay people that included friends and family members as well as those interested in social justice.

Donal MacAodh, Yes Equality Longford and secretary of Longford LGBT, said it had been both a challenging and worthwhile experience, and one that he hoped would strengthen relations between all communities.

“In the four weeks of our campaign we knocked on 4,000 doors,” Mr MacAodh told the Leader on Monday.

“We covered about 90% of housing estates in Co Longford and approximately 38 people would have canvassed with us at some point during the campaign.”

One of the downsides to the group’s campaign endeavours was the lack of help and support from the political parties.

Mr MacAodh said that because many of the canvassers had no experience, it would have been very meaningful if support in that particular area had been forthcoming politically. However, he did point out that a small number of local area representatives did provide some support along the way.

“It is a pity because the political parties are the ones who had the experience in managing campaigns and we could have done with advice and direction along the way,” he continued.

“The reaction to the campaign on the doors was straight forward. If people were voting yes, the told us they were, otherwise we were told they knew what way they would be voting but were not prepared to divulge what the vote was.”

Campaigners were also met with homophobic behaviour and abuse along the way, and were forced to leave one area because of the level of hatred that emerged in their presence.

“Yes, we had to leave one particular estate in Longford town because of the level of homophobia and abuse our campaigners were getting, but generally people were courteous,” the LGBT secretary went on to say.

He also pointed out that campaigners were eager to engage with the electorate, however it was not as forthcoming as they would have liked.

“There were also those who were leaning towards religious arguments and issues over surrogacy, adoption etc and I do believe that it was these arguments that caused no voters to vote no,” Mr MacAodh added.

“They now need to ask themselves if they were thinking for themselves when they voted.

“This was a civil matter not a church one, yet the Church was happy to see the waters muddied on the issue.”