A few personal thoughts on yesterday’s referendum, and then five more…
One, this was a victory for middle Ireland, not just its radical edges. 80% in some working class areas of Dublin and majorities in plain if slender majorities each of the two Donegal constituencies (last time we’ll see that happen before the next general election probably) suggest this was genuine and popular vote, from more than the metrosexuals of D4.
Two, for once political parties and the people where on the on the same side. And because of that I suspect they had rather more agency with their constituents than they have been accustomed to for some time. I know that all three of the major parties in Donegal were heavily involved in local activism and meetings which will have enabled the county to weigh in for a Yes.
Three, the only constituency which delivered a No was three member Roscommon South Leitrim where two of the three TDs are non party members, who perhaps lacked a machine to really dig into the issue to effect a majority. Even so the margin was extremely tight, at 51.4% to 48.6%. Political parties are, it seems, occasionally good for something.
Four, although it’s far from the first time the country has defied the teachings of the church that in many ways has nurtured it, through the provisions of schools and many of its health and welfare institutions, this was probably the most significant departure between the state and church.
Five, all eyes will shift now to Northern Ireland, where we can expect an intemperate few weeks in which the DUP face a drubbing from the liberal media for (alone of all the UK’s devolved regions) refusing for equal marriage. For their part – in the short term at least – the DUP may have little choice but to circle wagons and dig in.
On this last though for those too pessimistic to believe that change can ever come to “the staleness of the kind of backwater” that would hold against the social consensus of both the rest of the UK and the rest of the island. Making noise rarely works as well as the broad and quiet coalition that brought this Yes to pass.
If the DUP won’t move this matter on, there are other unionist parties that just might. And those big 80% Yes votes in working class Dublin ought to give the DUP some serious pause for thought before attempting to move the whole debate back to zero.
The Catholic Church is not the only institution on the island that needs a reality check.
My own thoughts