SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood has said that indications from the Marriage Equality Referendum point toward a historic moment for Ireland.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Eastwood said he would like to see the North follow in the footsteps of the South by legalising same sex marriage here.
“Today we have woken up to a new Ireland. Irish people have voted in overwhelming numbers to embrace equality and send a message to the world that our faith lies in our people. The South will soon legalise Marriage Equality through a popular vote, it’s important now that the North embraces change and that Ireland, as an island and a nation, supports our LGBT brothers and sisters.
“I want to congratulate everyone who campaigned, supported and cast their ballot for a ‘Yes’ vote. It was an inspiring effort that crossed political opinion and saw through religious divides. It has also reenergised the democratic tradition here. Unprecedented numbers of people who have left these shores made the journey back to cast their vote for equality. This referendum has demonstrated that while people may be turned off by party politics, they have not turned their backs on democracy.”
Mr. Eastwood added that he thought the North should be a “bastion of respect and diversity” and said he can see no reason why the result in the South could not be replicated in the North.
“Soon the North will be the only area in these islands to enforce a ban against same sex couples expressing their love through marriage. That cannot continue. Political representatives of every hue here should look at what has happened in the South today. Look at how those of devout religious faith came out in significant numbers and voted ‘Yes’ to equal marriage. Realise that giving rights to others does not diminish those that you hold.
“The North should be a bastion of respect for diversity. We must all redouble our efforts to support equality and press for recognition of civil marriage across these islands. We made history and set an example for the rest of the world before, we can do it again.”
The North should be a bastion of respect for diversitySDLP MLA for Foyle, Colum Eastwood