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Dublin: 16°C Wednesday 17 August 2022

"Everything changes with this": Tears, relief (and sunscreen) at a jubilant Dublin Castle

“I think it’s a great thing – particularly for children growing up gay and for the children of gay couples. They already exist.”


Relief and quiet satisfaction at a job well done.

The above seemed to sum up the atmosphere at Dublin Castle this morning – as campaigners gathered to await this afternoon’s expected Yes announcement.

Dee Carney – who came prepared, with high-factor sunscreen to guard against the bright early-summer weather – says the referendum campaign had given people all over the country an opportunity to speak out, and to be honest about who they are.

“I think it’s a great thing – particularly for children growing up gay, and for the children of gay couples. They already exist. They’re already out there.

“Things will change too in relation to the level of bullying that happens – you know, people being called gay even when they’re not gay.

Everything changes with this. I feel freer walking down the street with this. It’s great. It’s historic.

The campaign, as well as providing a chance for people to speak out, was also divisive, she adds.

So many things got said and done, in the last few weeks in particular, by neighbours and family members on the No side – I don’t know how they’re going to come back from it. Relationships have changed – because people have vocalised their negativity.

Some of her friends were surprised by the negative reactions they’d experienced from people against the Constitutional change, she says.

I think the gay community and supporters of the gay community have been very supportive in their approach to this.

Finishing our chat on an optimistic note – she says she hopes conversations that started during the campaign “are not going to stop today”.

“They’ll just continue. And things can only get better.

“What we always need to do is to talk. Families sitting around tables talking about uncles and aunts who were in the closet and never ever came out – and went to their grave. They’re being discussed.

They’re alive again in households. They’re alive in families – the departed generation.

In the shade of the courtyard, wrapped in a rainbow flag, Erin O’Malley says a No vote would have been hard to take.

“It felt like if it didn’t pass today it would have all been for nothing. We’d have been putting ourselves through a huge amount for nothing.

So it’s incredible.

Erin, who campaigned in south Dublin, said negativity on the doorsteps had been tough to take. And difficult not to take personally.

“The word around was that the bigger the car in the driveway – the less likely that people would want to share their prosperity with others.

Older people in particular, some of them seemed very happy – smug even – to tell you they were voting No. It was kind of, like ‘how dare you come and ask us for this’. It was a real bit of a kick at times.

While some people were genuinely confused – and had questions about couples raising children “some other people just seemed very rigid in their ideals”.

Her fellow campaigner, Elaine Timmons, speaking of a particularly negative encounter, adds:

“It was hard sometimes to be polite – but everybody did that, and it was lovely And that was the nicest part of it.

We thanked them for their time – because at least they did open the door to you.

As more campaigners, families and well-wishers arrive (the first cheers broke out at around 12.30) – Kyle, Katie and their friends say it’s a hugely significant moment for them.

Says Kyle: “I couldn’t sleep last night I was on Twitter every half an hour.

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“I’m just very emotional. It’s been a very emotional time to be honest. Overwhelming. So it’s nice to see such a positive result.

“It’s been a long journey for everybody. I started canvassing for Civil Partnership in 2007 – so it’s been a long road.

The whole issue of ‘Coming Out’ will never be the same, Katie contends:

“Kids will now talk about getting married – and then you will be asked are you going to marry a boy or a girl. The implicit assumption that everybody is straight as far as I can see will become less and less.

I think it’s a really exciting time and incredibly powerful for kids … that they may not have to define themselves by their sexual orientation. They’re just who they are, they just happen to be attracted to someone of the same sex.

Source: Video

A decision was made late last night to open the Castle square to the public.

There were just an handful of security people on duty as left – just before lunchtime. The square can take around 2,000 max – and early attendees said they were expecting a party atmosphere later, as more crowds showed up.

The National Returning Officer is expected to make the formal announcement there, at around 5pm this afternoon.

It’s worth noting – the world’s media are also at the Castle (you’d almost fall over the camera crews, there are so many of them) to watch the whole thing.

LIVE: Counting underway in marriage referendum as tallies indicate it’s a YES

Read: The No campaign has accepted that they have lost the referendum

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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