An Irish Catholic Archbishop has said that the result of yesterday’s referendum on gay marriage shows that the church needs “a reality check”. Diarmuid Martin, one of the country’s most senior churchmen, has said that he voted No to the measure, but believes that the outcome signifies a social revolution.
Irish voters went to the polls on Friday to decide whether the Irish constitution should be redefined to allow marriage to be between two people, without reference to their sex. Despite the whole of the political and cultural establishment backing the Yes vote, the result was tighter than expected – polls put support for the measure at 75 per cent, but in the event four in 10 dared to vote ‘No’.
Nonetheless, the outcome, which marks Ireland out as the first country to introduce gay marriage by popular assent, has provoked questions within the church establishment about its relevance to today’s society, the Guardian has reported.
Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin told the Irish broadcaster RTE: “We [the church] have to stop and have a reality check, not move into denial of the realities. We won’t begin again with a sense of renewal, with a sense of denial.
“I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day. That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution.
“I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years. I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church,” he added.
Martin said he personally voted No, believing that gay rights could be supported without redefining marriage.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who had been urging a Yes decision right up to polling day, praised Irish voters for taking the “courageous step” to vote in favour of redefining marriage. “The decision makes every citizen equal and will strengthen the institution of marriage for all existing and future marriages. All people now have an equal future to look forward to,” he said.
Ireland’s equalities minister, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, was more outspoken in his delight at the result:
Ireland hasn’t just said “Yes”… Ireland has said: “F❤️CK YEAAHHHH”
— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD (@AodhanORiordain) May 23, 2015
He also tweeted “Incredible feeling at Dublin Castle today. This is our Republic – we’ve taken it back today,” ominously adding “Today is only the start of equality in Ireland”.