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Vote is 'referendum on love'

Published 23/05/2015

Yes voter Deirdre Duffy and her seven-month-old daughter Belle with Yes campaigners Kristina Vaughan, Mark Dempsey and Ger O'Keeffe
Yes voter Deirdre Duffy and her seven-month-old daughter Belle with Yes campaigners Kristina Vaughan, Mark Dempsey and Ger O'Keeffe

Ireland is set to vote Yes to gay marriage in the world's first referendum on love, a campaigner said.

Irish language teacher Sean O Tarpaigh flew the country's tricolour as he declared it should have a heart in the middle of it as a symbol of the new equality.

Catholic bishops campaigned against the change but Mr O Tarpaigh said spirituality was not dead as he waited at the Dublin count centre where the result will be announced later today.

He said: "It is like a referendum on love, the first in the world.

"We should have a red heart in the middle of the tricolour, we would be the first country to have a heart as a symbol of the country."

Around 2,000 people are expected to pack the Dublin Castle count venue ahead of the result.

Ireland is expected to become the first country in the world to publicly vote for the change - and it is also traditionally Catholic.

Mr O Tarpaigh added: "Catholicism traditional matters are gone but I don't think spirituality is gone.

"It is a shame that the Catholic Church could not embrace a more modern spirituality.

"That whole patriarchal, celibate, male sort of model is just really outdated now, it is really finished and I am pretty certain the Catholic Church will change eventually but at the minute they are behind the curve, which is unfortunate."

The 54-year-old from Dublin is originally from Co Mayo in Ireland's west, which is home to some of the holiest shrines in Catholicism as well as Ireland's premier, Enda Kenny, who has spearheaded the political campaign for Yes.

Mr O Tarpaigh said he was in a religious choir when he was young.

He claimed there was room for all in the Catholic Church but said it needed to encourage more women to play an active role and embrace "female energy".

The psychotherapist greeted the expected result with great relief.

"The No side were threatening that in the silence of the ballot box, that people would change their minds.

"I am from Mayo and I drove 400 kilometres round-trip yesterday (from Dublin to Mayo) to vote. My 90-year-old mother also voted Yes."

While the young vote has been highlighted in places like Dublin, Amnesty International Ireland director Colm O'Gorman said it has been an inter-generational vote for change, including many older people who may have been expected to vote No.

At the castle young people draped in rainbow-coloured flags sat in circles awaiting the result, talking to curious tourists.

The Irish Government, which lobbied for a Yes vote, has opened the building to campaigners.

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