Tánaiste Joan Burton has sent out a message to the gay community that Ireland is the best small country in which to have a wedding in if a couple decide to marry.
Following the landmark passing of the marriage equality referendum, the Labour leader made an appeal to young people who were gay to come home.
“I anticipate it might be the best small country in which to get married in and have a wedding party, particularly if you are gay,” said Ms Burton. “We are already very good at it. We know civil partnerships have been profound and enjoyable.
“I think we will send out a welcome, particularly [to] all those young Irish people who have gone abroad.
“I think today is the time to send a message to say welcome home. Thanks for coming home and taking an interest and participating. But welcome home and if you want to get married back here and you’ve found the one and only, we’d be happy to see you celebrating here.”
Politicians and campaigners took to the stage at Dublin Castle during the count throughout Saturday as thousands of people with multi-coloured flags cheered and clapped.
Senator David Norris, credited with being instrumental in overturning the offence of homosexuality in Ireland, received huge applause as he took to the stage.
Throwing his fists into the air, he yelled the famous French motto liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, brotherhood).
Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who came out as gay before the referendum campaign, received huge cheers from the crowds.
He said other countries might now put the issue of same-sex marriage to the their voters: “I think other countries may follow.”
Former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey, who also came out during the campaign, praised those who had led the yes campaign.
“I think it’s about Ireland becoming ready to become a really inclusive country, they have embraced the gay community,” he said.
Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said gay people were no longer a second class.
“In the past three months, there have been some conversations on the doorsteps. After this incredible campaign, citizens will never be going back in the bottle.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny though also acknowledged the No campaign.
“We respect everybody who took part in the democratic process and went out and voted,” he said.
“This is a global first, a small country with a big message about equality and equality of opportunity for love and law.”
He also remembered gay people who had been denied their rights in Ireland.
“The spirits of those who brought their secrets to the grave with them will feel somewhat consoled and vindicated and that perhaps they played some little part in bringing about recognition and understanding of what equality means,” said Mr Kenny
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there was something in the DNA of Irish people which reacted to inequality.
“It was, for the most part, a very respectful and informed debate,” he said.
“I think it reflected very well on Ireland as a country and a society.”
Mr Martin said what was astonishing about the campaign was how people of all backgrounds and ages were so engaged in the debate.
“There is absolutely no doubt that Ireland has changed dramatically as a country over the past 20 or 25 years,” he said.
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