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Media Coverage: Irish Marriage Equality Referendum, 2015

Impact: Public Discourse Impacts

  • Catherine Margaret Harper (Participant)

Description of impact

Following University of Portsmouth Media Training by Sandi Toksvig and UP Media Brighton (and inclusion in the University's Directory of Experts), I was invited to be interviewed on the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum outcome on 22 May 2015 for BBC Radio News and Radio 5 Live. 

Who is affected

Individuals with an interest in LGBTQ rights in Ireland and in the global Irish diaspora.


The Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, approved by referendum on 22 May 2015, permits marriage to be contracted in accordance with Irish law by two persons without distinction as to their sex (ie. same-sex marriage is permissible under the Irish Constitution). Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote.

Given Ireland’s traditional conservatism and Catholic majority (noting homosexuality was only decriminalised in Ireland in 1993), and the velocity of social change since the early 1990s, the Yes and No campaigns were energetic. Business opinion was significantly pro-the legislative change, as were Ireland's main children's charities. Union of Students in Ireland, Amnesty International, Health and legal representative organisations similarly supported the Yes campaign.

In the end, only one of the 26 counties of Ireland returned a No vote, and of the final result, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny said, "With today's Yes vote we have disclosed who we are – a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people. The referendum was about inclusiveness and equality, about love and commitment being enshrined in the constitution” and as the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in the constitution and through popular mandate, Ireland was described as “a beacon of equality and liberty to the rest of the world”.

As a Northern Irish gay woman, it was a privilege to have opportunity to comment in the media, and my point was that Northern Ireland (unlike the rest of the UK, and now Ireland) still does not permit same sex marriage. Amnesty International has described Northern Ireland as "now the last bastion of discrimination against gay people in these islands”.

Category of impact

  • Public Discourse Impacts

ID: 2976925