The Yes side in the same-sex marriage referendum has urged a big “get out the vote” drive in the last three days of the campaign in light of the gap between both sides narrowing, according to a series of weekend opinion polls.
Tánaiste Joan Burton, speaking in Limerick last night, said it was "imperative" for Yes supporters to seek out friends and family who were still undecided and persuade them to vote in favour of the proposed change.
At the party's selection convention in Limerick City last night, she said her party had a proud and distinguished history on the issue and had been to the fore in ensuring the referendum would take place. She expressed confidence there would be a Yes vote on Friday.
Meanwhile. the principal civil society group campaigning for a No vote yesterday condemned what it said was continuing vandalism and deliberate tearing down of No posters.
Mothers and Fathers Matter said it was important a fair debate was held irrespective of people’s differing stances.
Paddy Manning of the group said it was a "huge blow to democracy and freedom of speech when people are seeking to silence the No message and deprive people of a chance to hear both sides of the story".
“I have been canvassing across the country from towns to cities, to rural villages, the response has been incredibly positive. Sadly the only homophobia I have encountered has been from Yes campaigners,” he said.
Mr Manning, who is gay asserted the combination of a massive inequalities in funding between both sides, as well as the decision by all the main political parties to side with the Yes campaign, had led to a “very unfair playing field”.
“The removal of No posters is adding to that. It is scary to think that the next election or referendum will be fought on the undemocratic rules that are being established now.
“I believe the real reason that the No side is being silenced is because they do not want the true message of what a Yes vote means getting out – that the passage of this referendum will mean that some children are deliberately deprived of a mother and a father.”
Both the ISPCC and the Children’s Rights Alliance yesterday participated in a video advocating a Yes vote. It featured adult children of same-sex couples arguing that a Yes vote would give constitutional validation to their families.
Evan Barry, the son of a same-sex couple, said: "A Yes vote on Friday would deliver recognition for my family and for other families like mine that exist all across Ireland. "
Caroline O’Sullivan of the ISPCC said that 15 children’s rights organisations supported a Yes vote, and considered it to be in the best interests of children.
Gráinne Healy, co-director of the Yes Equality campaign, also said a Yes vote would underscore the importance of providing security for families headed by lesbian and gay couples.
“We know that all the research shows that the kids are all right, that children growing up in lesbian and gay households do just as well as children growing up in other family types,” she said.
The No campaign group Stand Up 4 Marriage argued that a Yes vote would be a result “bordering on insanity”.
Its chairman, Barry Jones, said: "The ultimate consequences are so antagonistic to the common good and so far-reaching in their adverse effects that no compassionate or right-thinking person would wish them on anyone, still less knowingly vote for them."