I would like to ask you to make sure you cast your vote at your local polling station today. Many thanks for all your support towards our campaign.
Speech by the Tanaiste and Labour Party Leader Joan Burton TD
I am delighted to be in the presence of so many prominent and successful women, and I’d like to thank the Women’s Executive Network for the invitation to address you.
The event organisers suggested I say a few words about how I got started in politics, how my career progressed, and what lessons I have learned.
If I may, I want to do this today through the prism of acceptance and equality.
My husband Pat and I spent three years working as lecturers in the university of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania in the 1980s.
Tanzania at that time was economically poor but socially rich.
Women were respected, divorce was available, and extremist interpretations of Islam had no place there.
During that time, I remember walking on a beach and meeting an engineer from the ESB.
We recognised each other as fellow Irish people and he told me about the Kerry Babies case,which shocked me profoundly.
My time in Tanzania also coincided with the mounting campaign for divorce in Ireland, which would, of course, be defeated in the first referendum in 1986. (more…)
Joan Burton Speaking at the Labour Party’s
Marriage Equality Campaign Final Press Conference
And what an incredible picture it’s painting of the Ireland of today.
Not so long ago, to be gay was to risk becoming a criminal in your own community.
For generations, people have experienced shame and stigma; Hiding their identities for fear of the prejudice and abuse that was unleashed against them.
The broadcaster Ursula Halligan has in recent days given a poignant voice to that struggle. Just a few short years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a broad based civic movement; Of gay and lesbian people their family, friends and supporters; Knocking on doors all across the country in the most public campaign imaginable. And yet now, right now, in every community in Ireland, that’s exactly what we’ve seen happening.
People have been going out in unprecedented numbers and with incredible enthusiasm; Urging their friends, neighbours and even total strangers to vote Yes to equality. A Yes vote on Friday will mark a hugely significant turning point in Ireland’s history, and our treatment of our LGBT community.
This vote is about people’s lives. It’s about ending a very specific fear for some of our citizens; And replacing it with hope for us all.
Both hope and fear have been a constant feature of this campaign for those most directly affected by its outcome.
But those emotions have also been expressed so very movingly; By those who wish to see their fellow citizens afforded the same right they themselves already enjoy.
I think of all the parents and guardians of LGBT children; Of the fear they have felt when they learn their child is gay; At the thought of a lifetime of second-class citizenship they will have to face. (more…)