Anti-Austerity Alliance urges voters to turn out for Yes campaign
Socialist TD Paul Murphy says No side’s ‘mask of victimhood’ is hypocritical
Socialist Party TDs Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy, who said: ‘The No posters say don’t be silenced. But if you look at the reality of who is silenced it’s large numbers of LGBT people right through society.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
In a “final push” for a Yes vote in Friday’s same-sex marriage referendum, the Anti-Austerity Alliance has stressed the urgency of voter turnout.
At a press conference in Dublin on Tuesday, Socialist Party TDs Joe Higgins, Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy focused on the importance of the youth vote and rounded on the No campaign for adopting a “mask of victimhood” throughout the debate.
“It’s extremely positive that it was reported in the last day or so that tens of thousands of people have gone onto the electoral register just for this referendum,” Mr Higgins said.
“I would surmise that very many of those are young people who want to vote and want to vote Yes. It is crucial that there is a huge turnout by everybody who believes in equality and civil rights for people who are gay.”
He dismissed as “absolutely untrue” the notion those intending to vote against the amendment had been stigmatised by the opposite camp.
With the youth demographic in mind, Meabh Hennelly, an 18-year-old pupil involved with the Spectrum support group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, said a No vote was “unimaginable”.
“It will be telling people of my generation that you are just starting out in life but you are not equal. You won’t be accessing the same rights as everybody else and we are very aware, we know exactly what is going on and it matters deeply,” she said.
Mr Murphy addressed the issue of disingenuous victimhood on the part of the No side.
They have been “complaining about being bullied, complaining about being silenced. We think it’s hypocritical in the extreme in a situation when those who are bullied are overwhelmingly LGBT people.”
Rather, he said, members of the gay community had suffered verbal abuse, attacks in the workplace and physical assault.
“And yet it’s those that are arguing to maintain the inequality which serves to justify that kind of abuse, that kind of behaviour, that are complaining about being bullied,” he said.
“The No posters say don’t be silenced. But if you look at the reality of who is silenced it’s large numbers of LGBT people right through society but particularly of course young people, particularly school students.”
Ms Coppinger dismissed any suggestion a Yes vote was the preserve of the middle class, saying she had encountered the same level of support in working class communities. She was also confident the referendum would attract votes on the issue at hand and not be used as a means to punish the Government.
“It is essential that young people in particular turn out to vote,” she said, underscoring the central message.
“A key issue from the No campaign has been the idea that a mother and father is essential for a child,” she said.
“This is targeting the most emotive level. And they need to be asked, what is their problem with same-sex parents?”