Vow on all-Ireland equality

People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle on Saturday for the historic announcement.  Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
People gather at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle on Saturday for the historic announcement. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Local politicians have vowed to carry on the fight for same sex equality in the north following the historic result in the Marriage Referendum in the south.

Derry representatives from both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have said their parties will now continue to fight for the north to adopt the right of same sex couples to get married and to have their marriages recognised.

SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood has said that the Referendum in the south- which saw over 60% of people voting for same sex marriage to be authorised and given equal status - was a historic moment for Ireland.

He said: “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.”

Mr Eastwood added: “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 re-energised 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 said that 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,” he argued. “Political representatives of every hue here should look at what has happened in the South.

“The North should be a bastion of respect for diversity. We must all redouble our efforts to support equality.”

Sinn Féin Derry-Strabane Councillor Sandra Duffy said her party would continue its campaign for marriage equality for all in the north.

Colr. Duffy said: “I’m delighted the people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality for all. This referendum was all about equality, inclusion and respect for our LGBTI brothers and sisters.

“The campaign energised and engaged a whole new generation of young people in the democratic process. This result shows when people fully participate in the political process that change is not only possible but inevitable.

“Sinn Féin played a very positive and active role in the Yes campaign. The fact so many of our people returned home to vote highlighted yet again the need to tackle the issue of voting rights for the diaspora and for Irish citizens in the North.

“The marriage equality rights that will be enjoyed by Irish citizens in the south must be shared by citizens in the north.”