VIDEO: Referendum exit poll in Dundalk

Voters appear to have backed same sex marriage even in a semi rural, republican leaning part of Co Louth.

A small News Letter exit poll at St Fursey’s National School, west of Dundalk, found that 34 people had voted Yes to the referendum change, while 20 said that they had voted No. 
A further 13 people would not divulge how they had voted. They were mostly older voters, who are more likely to vote No.

Sinead Hughes, who voted Yes,  and her daughter Holly. Picture by Ben Lowry

Sinead Hughes, who voted Yes, and her daughter Holly. Picture by Ben Lowry

Even if all the ‘won’t says’ are added to the No voters, the split is 50:50.

Such areas are expected to be less supportive of same sex marriage than greater Dublin.

The News Letter chose the station because last year it had both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail on around 27 per cent of the vote.

However, the findings have to be treated with caution because it is a small snapshot from one polling station.

Tom Hayes, who voted No. Picture by Ben Lowry

Tom Hayes, who voted No. Picture by Ben Lowry

The breakdown by gender was:

Women 20 Yes, 10 No, 5 won’t say.

Men 14 Yes, 10 No, 8 won’t say.

All exiting voter were asked about party affiliation, and most said that they had no particular affiliation or preference but of those who did, the Yes voters were 4 Fine Gael, 4 Fianna Fail, 3 Sinn Fein, and one Labour.

The No voters who had a party preference were 8 Fianna Fail, 2 Fine Gael, 2 Sinn Fein.

Across all age groups, even the elderly, there were people who strongly supported same sex marriage. One older woman said that she thought feminine men would be kind and good raising a family.

However, there were also firm opponents of the notion. Several people said with great emphasis that they had voted No.

Among them was Liam Neary, 67, who said: “I think a man and a woman, that’s the way marriage should be.”

A more cautious No was Tom Hayes, 47, a Fianna Fail voter, who said he wavered but concluded: “It was uncertain how it will impact on the whole issue of surrogacy.”

One woman said: “I have no-one to represent me. They are changing everything in society. Religion is everything to me.” Then, knowing that she was talking to a Northern Irish reporter, she added: “I would vote DUP in the north.”

Most No voters would not give their names or pose for photographs, but several were happy to talk about it anonymously.

One woman aged 60 said she would soon be attending a gay ceremony, and that she had been a Yes voter, but in the end decided: “It was the children and all that.”

Another elderly man said that he wavered at the last minute on the same issue, deciding to go No after reading arguments about how it would affect children.

Many Yes voters were happy to pose for photographs or appear in our video clip.

Sinead Hughes turned up at the polling station with her daughter, Holly, aged 8, who had said on the way down in the car. “Everyone is entitled to equality.”

Mark Thornton, 31, said something similar: “Everyone’s equal, aren’t they?”

Sam McKeague, a 20-year-old student, said: “I think all people should be treated equally regardless of their sexual identity.”

Michael Keane, who is retired and originally from England, said he believed in “giving children a chance: granted it might be a same sex couple, but if you get a loving family, why not.

Christine Mullaney, who walked to the polling station with her dog, said: “I have a brother who’s gay so if he ever wants to get married I want to be able to be at his wedding. But also a best friend is gay – she is with her partner, they have two children and are getting married in the UK. I want her to be able to get married in Ireland.”

Among the Yes voters who would not pose for photographs were a middle-aged lesbian couple who said that they were “quietly accepted” in the area.

After their civil ceremony, an elderly female neighbour gave them a gift of money.

There was overwhelming opposition to the other referendum proposal, about reducing the minimum age for presidents from 35 to 21.

The poll was carried out between 9am and midday.

See video of Gerry Adams voting, and talking about how his views on same sex matters have evolved