Burton: Low turnout will jeopardise referendum

Tánaiste Joan Burton expressed concern that young yes voters may not make it to the polls in sufficient numbers for Friday’s vote to extend civil marriage rights to same sex couples.

Ms Burton said TV3 political editor Ursula Halligan’s revelations about her struggle with her sexuality were “intensely moving” and would have swayed a lot of voters to the yes cause.

“Those people who are firmly in the yes camp need to go out and vote,” said Mr Burton. “A lot of people support it on social media, and I keep saying that is not actually voting; you just have to get there on Friday.”

The yes side fears a low turn-out would favour the no side, as older voters are more likely to opposing reform, and that is the demographic that usually votes in large numbers. However, the no side has urged everyone with reservations about the proposed reform to show up at polling stations to register that opinion.

RELATED: Ursula Halligan : ’I have been in a prison since the age of 17’

On a visit to Cork, Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed concern about a no result.

“Of course I am concerned,” he said. “I am concerned about any referendum. It cannot be passed unless people vote for it.

“That means not only should they have an interest in this but they have got to go out to the polling station, get their ballot paper and mark it. That is how referenda are passed in any case.

“Of course the history of referenda in this country is that you have significant numbers who voted against every referenda.

“This is a really sensitive and important issue. Any time a person goes to Croke Park, 10% of that crowd are gay people. That is the general average.

“Are we, in 2015, going to have a situation where we deny the right of people, men and women, who have a love for each other to sign a civil contract in civil law to extend the institution of marriage to them?

“It will strengthen it. We cannot leave them in limbo. But it can only happen if the Irish people vote for it.”

Communications Minister Alex White dismissed claims by the no side that a yes vote would impact on existing adoption laws or planned surrogacy legislation.

“There is no threat to anyone’s rights or the rights of children from a yes vote,” he said. “What this is about is extending a right that the majority of us have in the community.

Yesterday, Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley told the Irish Examiner the referendum was not about gay people.

“The Church is often criticised unfairly regarding its attitude to gay people,” he said. “Over 100 years ago, the Catholic Church was considered to be more understanding than the State towards people of a gay orientation. Indeed, some prominent gay people converted to Catholicism.

“The Church is always willing to reach out to all people because of its pastoral concern for the public, especially gay people.

“This referendum is not about the gay community. This referendum is about the redefinition of marriage and the family and the important role that mothers and fathers play in the upbringing of children. Fathers and mothers bring something different, unique, and essential to the rearing of their children.”


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