Coalition thinks 60% Yes vote possible in referendum

On eve of broadcast-moratorium campaigners believe people have made up their minds

Which way? Yes and No posters on Merrion Street, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Which way? Yes and No posters on Merrion Street, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

Senior Government figures are increasingly confident the same-sex marriage referendum will pass. Sources predict the Yes vote could be as high as 60 per cent.

As campaigning enters its final full day ahead of the broadcast moratorium, which takes effect from lunchtime on Thursday, campaigners across the political spectrum believe voters have now largely made up their minds.

All stress that turnout – particularly among younger voters – will be crucial and say there is no place for complacency. Speaking privately, a Cabinet minister said: “If the turnout is above 45 per cent, it will be safe. If turnout goes towards 50 per cent, Yes could be closer to 60.”

Another Cabinet minister estimated a Yes vote of 58-60 per cent. Their views are shared across the political parties, although few would speak publicly for fear of affecting the vote.

“It will be between 55 and 60, 55 would be the lowest I would go,” one senior Fianna Fáil figure said, with similar predictions in Sinn Féin. Independent TD Finian McGrath also said the proposal would pass with close to 60 per cent support.

However, journalist and No campaigner John Waters said the No side could prevail. Mr Waters predicted the result was heading for a 50/50 split.

‘Freefall’

Separately, the Yes Equality campaign group says its canvass returns had hardened in recent days as more voters make up their minds.

“We are seeing people who were positively disposed to a Yes making their minds up and falling our way,” said Tiernan Brady from Yes Equality. “But the issue now is getting out to vote.”

Others on the Yes side said voters now needed some days to reflect before casting their ballots. It was also claimed that concerns around surrogacy and adoption had cleared over the final weekend.

Electoral hopes

Fine Gael

Clare deputy Pat Breen said he had canvassed at shopping centres but had not called door-to-door seeking a Yes vote.

Carlow-Kilkenny’s Pat Deering said he was still considering how to vote while his colleague John O’Mahony admitted that he could see the arguments on both sides.

One deputy said Fine Gael was at risk of alienating its voters. “We are pushing the case and there is fear out there among older people and we are not explaining anything to them.”

Cork South East TD Noel Harrington, who predicted that the vote would pass narrowly, said there was a split between older and younger voters.

Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness confirmed that he is voting No and it is understood at least six members of the party – including Éamon Ó Cuív, Willie O’Dea and Senator Terry Leyden – support his decision.

Some other TDs are said to be supporting a Yes nationally while telling constituents they will vote No.

Senator Averil Power said Fianna Fáil’s settled policy was unequivocally in favour of same-sex marriage, and that Mr McGuinness should be disciplined.

She said: “Every member of the parliamentary party has a responsibility to help secure a Yes vote on Friday.”