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Poll focus set to shift to north

Pressure is set to build on Northern Ireland's politicians to allow a popular vote on gay marriage after the resounding victory in the Republic.

Sinn Fein said the equality rights for same-sex couples must be shared by citizens in the north and it will continue to campaign for the reform.

Caitriona Ruane, the party's Stormont Assembly Member for South Down, said the referendum shows change is possible and inevitable when people fully engage in politics.

"The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north," she said.

"Sinn Fein will continue to campaign for marriage equality for all in the North and to end the discrimination against our LGBTI community."

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which does not have gay marriage.

Unionists earlier this year rejected a proposal from Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to hold a referendum on the issue similar to Republic.

Sinn Fein also said the influx of emigrants returning home to vote in the day before polling yesterday highlights the need to tackle the issue of voting rights for the Irish diaspora and for Irish citizens in Northern Ireland.

"I'm delighted the people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality for all," she said.

"This referendum was all about equality, inclusion and respect for our LGBTI brothers and sisters.

"The campaign energised and engaged a whole new generation of young people in the democratic process.

"This result shows when people fully participate in the political process that change is not only possible but inevitable."

Mr McGuinness said the marriage equality vote should be seen as a measure of the progress and maturity of Irish society and people increasingly embracing equality, human rights and respect.

"Politicians, particularly in the north, need to reflect on this progress," he said.

"The world is moving on and Ireland is taking the lead. Pride in Ireland has taken on a whole new meaning."

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