News (World)

Ireland goes to the polls to vote on marriage equality

Carmelite sisters leave a polling station in Malahide, County Dublin, Ireland, Friday, May 22, 2015.
Carmelite sisters leave a polling station in Malahide, County Dublin, Ireland, Friday, May 22, 2015. Peter Morrison, AP

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“There’s been queues outside registry offices to get people to vote. There’s been queues of people trying to get their identification stamped in order to register to vote. There’s been packed-out meetings up and down the country. There’s been people wearing badges for months saying they’re going to vote ‘yes,'” the 38-year-old said.

“This is a referendum like no other,” O Riordain told The Associated Press. “There’s a buzz and an anticipation of this like I’ve never seen before.”

Leaders of the country’s predominant faith, Roman Catholicism, have fueled opposition to the measure, arguing that legalization of gay marriage would undermine the institution and trigger unintended legal consequences in Irish courts, where adoption and surrogacy rights loom as distinct legal battlegrounds.

A “yes” result would provide fresh evidence of waning church influence in a country that, in the 1980s, voted forcefully in referendums to outlaw abortion and reject divorce.

By the shores of Dublin Bay, 20-something campaigners from the Yes Equality lobbying group waved rainbow flags and held up placards urging morning commuters to “Vote for us.” Cars honked back in approval.

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The Students Union of Ireland, determined to spur students back to their often faraway home districts to vote, produced an app offering custom-tailored advice on the best transport links to take. Cab booking companies Hailo and Uber offered free lifts to polling stations.

Irish singer Hozier posted a selfie in which he held up a Yes Equality “I’m ready to vote” sign. “Flying in to vote. … It’s the most important thing you’ll do. Don’t forget!” he wrote.

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