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#MarRef is about people and people's lives, Labour's meeting in Cork hears

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 04:13 PM

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Last night Labour held a packed public meeting on Marriage Equality. The evening was chaired by Minister Kathleen Lynch and the speakers included the Tánaiste Joan Burton, Joe Noonan and TJ from Yes Equality, Cork, Laura Harmon, President of USI, Conor O’Mahony from UCC School of Law and Valerie Mulcahy, Cork Ladies Football.

Listen to the Tánaiste's contribution to the meeting  

Joe Noonan from Yes Equality Cork spoke about the importance of canvassing as well as making sure everyone talks to their family and friends about how they are voting. TJ also from Yes Equality Cork made a powerful contribution on how he had rejected his true self until his 30s and how if this referendum had happened when he was a teenager the big difference it would have made to his life.

Laura Harmon from USI detailed the work being carried out by USI on the campaign, including 1500 new students registering to vote this week alone as well as how some colleges have ensured there are no exams scheduled for referendum day. USI are also organising transport to enable students to vote. Laura also spoke about her own experiences as a gay woman and urged people not to look back when the campaign is over and think that maybe we could’ve done more to make it pass.

The legal side of the debate was covered by Conor O’Mahony from UCC School of Law who emphasised the referendum is not about parenting but it is about children who might grow up to be gay as well as the children with parents who are gay.

Cork Ladies Football star Valerie Mulchay spoke about her difficulty coming out as a teenager but how when she met her partner how everything fell into place for her. She spoke about how coming out on the Donal Og show was one of the best things she has ever done and she was overwhelmed by the response she received. She also said that secrets are not good for the mental health of our young people, being gay is normal.

The Tániste Joan Burton said the referendum is not about abstract rights or legal entitlements. It is about people and people’s lives.

“We must remember the young couple whose future together in this country may hang in the balance of our decision. We must remember the children and the teenagers who are seen as “different” in the schoolyard and the classroom.

“And who need a gesture from us that what they feel, and who they are, is as natural and normal as anyone else. We must remember the mothers, fathers and guardians across the country who want to see their children - all their children – have the opportunity to build a life with the person they love”.

After the speakers the meeting was opened up to the floor where there were many more passionate contributions from those attending the meeting. We’d like to thank all the speakers for their valuable and insightful speeches and for all those who took the time to attend. 

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