Irish abroad with no vote urge those at home to use theirs

Emigrants show support for same-sex marriage in #UseYourVote and #BeMyYes campaigns

With just over two weeks to go before the same-sex marriage referendum, momentum has been growing among Irish people living abroad without a vote who are rallying to encourage friends and family still living in Ireland to use their vote.

Irish people living around the world have tweeted photos of themselves carrying #UseYourVote signs in front of recognisable landmarks, in response to Newstalk's campaign to raise awareness of the importance of casting a ballot if you are here in Ireland to do so (just 55 per cent of 18- to 35-year-olds living in Ireland polled last week said they were likely to vote, even though 90 per cent were in favour of same-sex marriage).

A similar initiative by the Vancouver-based #BeMyYes campaign has resulted in this video below, featuring well-known Irish people such as Laura Whitmore, James Vincent McMorrow, The Saw Doctors and rugby stars Peter Stringer, Jamie Hagan, Tomas O'Leary and Eamon Sheridan.

"With a yes vote, Irish society will be embracing all of its people, accepting gay people for who they are and welcoming them to the table, said #BeMyYes organiser Stephen Markham.

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“This is Irish society telling tomorrow’s gay children not to be ashamed of who they are and that they can look forward to the same things in life as their heterosexual friends. We realise that Irish people all over the world want to have their say in this and we hope ‘Be My Yes’ can help convey their messages for positive change.”

The Get the Boat to Vote campaign, which is urging eligible emigrants to travel back to Ireland to vote on May 22nd, has organised a group "expedition" from London Euston via Holyhead on the day of the referendum. They are also encouraging people travelling home from elsewhere to tag the campaign in photos on social media "to show the scope of the efforts Irish abroad are making to play their part in the referendum in terms of motivating those at home to get out and vote". See gettheboat2vote.com for more details.

Groups organising on social media include Irish Abroad for Yes, Irish YesEquality Australia, and Irish in Canada for YesEquality.

The Vote With Us campaign has a section on its website dedicated to the Irish abroad, featuring videos from Irish people around the world appealing for a Yes vote.

Have your say: If you're Irish and living abroad, how do you feel about not having a vote in the two upcoming referendums? Let us know in the comments section below.