Colette Sexton wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post about how she joined some Yes canvassers while they went door to door in Dublin 8.

She reported that the 60-odd people who had turned out to canvass had never canvassed for anything before.

“… While some people had waved the Yes campaigners away without opening the door, they encountered very few people who said outright that they were voting No. Of the No voters, one man in his mid-50s told campaigners that God created Adam and Eve and thus homosexuality was wrong.

Another said he was afraid that a Yes vote would bring ‘more Aids’ to the country. But, in all, only one person slammed a door in the face of a Yes campaigner that evening, and immediately she reopened the door, apologised and explained that she thought they were with the No side.”

Later in the article, Ms Sexton wrote that several groups from the No side rejected her request to join them while they canvassed, including David Quinn, of the Iona Institute, who said the group wasn’t going door to door as it didn’t have the resources, and the Mother And Fathers Matter group.

She wrote:

“A spokesman for the Mothers And Fathers Matter said that it was refusing to allow any media on its canvass, as it wanted to protect its volunteers from any negative attention. He said that it had also rejected a team from news website Buzzfeed in Washington DC which wanted to come with them on the campaign trail.”

Ms Sexton added:

“[Senator Ronán] Mullen, who lives in Galway, said: ‘Out of hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve only met one person that said, “I’m disagreeing with you. I’m voting Yes”….I’m meeting many more No voters than Yes voters…”


One of the core flaws is the deeply hidden fear, based on ignorance of the facts, that voting Yes will allow homosexuals to abuse access to male children.

Cosmopolitan campaigners assume that the majority of people know that gay fathers are already raising boys. Not so.

The Yes side forgets that for many heterosexual people the last few weeks have been both a crash course and steep learning curve on a minority sexual culture.

Far too many of the Yes speakers wrongly assume the majority of our people are au fait with gay and lesbian lifestyles in which children are cherished.

Accordingly, the Yes side should have concentrated on core fears about homosexuals and children during the three television debates.

UK result a reality check for RTÉ and referendum (Eoghan Harris, The Sunday Independent)

Pic: Colette Sexton

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77 thoughts on “No Fear

  1. newsjustin

    I an see why No campaigners won’t allow media with them on the canvas trail (if, in fact, they are actually canvassing). A lot (most?) people they meet won’t agree with them. Given the nature of the debate so far, it could get quite ugly. Though most people would still nod and smile, take the leaflet and bin it.

    I also don’t doubt that most people Ronan Mullen meets tell him that they’re voting No. I guess that’s the circles he moves in – people probably seek him out to pat him on the back and tell him they’re voting No. That’s not a scientific poll. Same goes for many Yes campaigners. Other Yes voters are happy to share that they’re voting Yes. Most No voters likely smile and nod.

    My gut tells me there’s a very large No vote lurking just below the surface here.

      1. Mister Mister

        The thing is that’s not even funny as it’s true in the midland towns I give the pleasure of my company to regularly.

      2. Martin Heavy-Guy

        Not fair, even if this is just trolling.
        Mind your saddle doesn’t slip, the fall looks pretty high.

    1. martco

      well here’s where I see the problem for the Yes campaign…..large parts of the their numbers will involve almost mechanically driven guaranteed voters who will goto the polling booth rain hail or worse as a matter of following their dogma
      the No side are far more potent voters in my view than your typical liberal agnostic balanced type….tis like that concentrated 20x Persil non-bio versus the ordinary cheaper lidl stuff both do the job but you know that Persil is good gear really works…

      anecdote – family row at the weekend over this subject, some members are more than regular churchgoers moreso like I think whats called “lay Catholics” who get involved with the organisation side (quietly promote the church in various ways amongst the younger community which I find a bit disturbing but that’s another story) aaanyways the thing I picked up from some of the more normal balanced members is that although they completely reject the idea of inequality outright including this particular aspect being voted on THEY WILL VOTE NO because they feel THEY MUST in order to support the church?!?!?! and you can say what u like about that (which I’ve already said anyway) but that’s the way it is and I think that’s the way it will be for many many families and individuals come voting day
      It was great to see so many Yes canvassers out at the weekend….its really good because I suspect they will need to make every effort possible!!

      1. newsjustin

        I don’t disagree with most of what you say martco. But two points:

        a) All baptised members of the church are “lay-Catholics” that’s just how that works. Lay as opposed to ordained/professed religious.

        b) I think you’re right. Some will vote No in an attempt to bolster the position of the RCC (which is recommending a No vote. It is a them and us thing (which David Quinn was accused of on here). What people forget is that some people (for example some of the BS commentators) are the “Them” in that scenario and seem entirely happy to be the “Them”. You can’t deny that some of the Yes side’s unofficial mantra seems to be about giving the RCC a bloody nose…..as a nice bonus to SSM.

      2. Joe the Lion


        The inequality argument is a weak one for canvassing undecideds. Try discrimination instead. You might not convince them anyway but you may make them feel a bit worse about their decision

        1. Martin Heavy-Guy

          I don’t think that would have any effect. Have you ever spoken to a taxi driver in Dublin about “rashism”? The term is so poisoned to many (not all!) taxi drivers that they just see it as an insult to their profession, and they get defensive about it without thinking about what it really means. I think by telling people they are bigots they will rail against you. It’s not a way to win an argument, just a way to dismiss one.

  2. Jonotti

    And apparently Breda O’Brien has bronchitis now, so she won’t be able to debate Rory O’Neill.

  3. Atlas

    The British shock result was brought about by the strangeness of the First-Past-the-Post voting system, not by ‘shy Tories’. If you look at the actual percentage of the vote each party won, it was well within the margin of error of the polls.

    Smug, apathetic, would-be yes voters who can’t be arsed to get to the polling stations (like the ~150,000 under-25s who didn’t bother to register) are a far bigger threat to this referendum passing than shy no voters.

    1. Darren Devereux

      You could argue that a referendum is a ‘first past the post’ election. In that there is only 1 of 2 outcomes. I don’t think the polls are reflective of the closeness of what the actual result will be. The polls for Nice, Lisbon 1, Seanad, X case etc were all wrong.

      I’ll 100% be voting yes but have a feeling it’s going to be a lot closer than some would beleive. It will all come down to the Yes side’s ability to get the young people out out and actually vote.

      If i was being really cheeky………. the 6/1 odds from Paddy Power on a No result looks a bit tasty ( 1/12 for a yes vote) .

      1. Custo

        That’s the thing that’s going to swing it.

        I’d say about 90% of 21-30 year olds on social media are all for a YES vote, and they all have YES profile pictures and are all sharing the lovely illustrations and murals about town etc, but referendums aren’t won on Twitter.

      2. connla

        The Referendum will be less problematic then the FPTP system in the UK because it is a gross count across the country and not divided by constituency boarders. Some constituencies are going to come out with a no vote over a yes vote. My home country Tipperary looks set to be a No county, but I’m hoping that the likes of Tipp and Donegal will be offset by Dublin, Cork etc and even though I might be a minority voter in tipp my yes vote will still count to the overall number and not be ignored which was the issue in the UK system.

      1. spud1

        So many people think it’s a sure winner already, and are already planning a party.

    2. Annie

      I agree with you to some extent Atlas although I perceive the shy No vote to be extremely large. With some of the most engaged young Yes voters on social media, even if they are registered, one could drive the pen and ballot paper to them and they still would not bother voting. That is the sad reality. But on May 23rd, they will be online on this, that and the other forum crowing about our oppressively religiously conservative nation…

    3. Rob_G

      “like the ~150,000 under-25s who didn’t bother to register”

      – this makes my blood run cold, really worried that the No side will win on the strength of this apathy

  4. The Old Boy

    The response on the doorsteps is rarely a sound indication of how well a campaign is going. People, and I think Irish people in particular, have a habit of politely agreeing, taking the leaflet and voting whichever way they were going to anyway.

    Referenda are different, but lots of people will tell any canvasser that they’ll vote for their candidate, in case they want to look for a favour from them once elected.

    1. Odis

      Ain’t it the truth. The only canvassers I’ve ever told to **** off, were Jehovah’s Witnesses. And that’s because they keep on coming back, if you are polite with them.

      1. Stewart Curry

        Apparently if you ask them not to visit they’ll put you on a “do not visit” list.

  5. 评论员

    meet a coupe of people sitting on a fence while out & about not canvassing, told them to watch out as the fence was old & could collapse, c’est la vie they said, it didn’t matter to them which side of the field they ended up in, prop like 90% of people in the country, though one of them admitted to allowing a few yes posters to be hung in the window of his coffee shop if only to get a bit more footfall through the door during an upcoming festival weekender close to his town, prop like 90% of the retailers in the country

    1. Martin Heavy-Guy

      This is what I feel is happening here. There is a strong yes side, a strong no side, and (I imagine) a hell of a lot of apathetic people that don’t care one way or another. A low turn-out wouldn’t be that surprising…

  6. Dubloony

    Has anyone spotted a No canvas anywhere? I would LOVE if Quinn were to knock on my door.

    Some interesting points raised in the article that the Yes side need to bear in mind.

    1. Starina

      We’ve had two Yes canvassers to our door, would love a No canvasser so I could give out to them.

  7. Clampers Outside!

    Nobody ever canvasses apartments in Dublin city, no fun at all….

    I’d love an aul Ronan Mullen or a Breda popping round Dublin 8…. for an aul cuppa tae like and a natter…

    1. Dubloony

      The problem with apartments is how to get into them.
      Even if canvassers lived there, if people literally knocked on the door, they’d be onto management about a security breach.
      And if truth be told, if an apartment is mainly rented, there are very few registered voters in them.

      So difficult to get into, and not much return for the hassle.

      Ideas on a postcard for how to crack this one.

      1. spud1

        There’s been plenty of public meetings and debates. I’d rather that than someone knocking at my door.
        If the people want to be informed, it’s up to them. Unfortunately, ignorance and indifference is going to be a big winner.

  8. diddy

    Im not into this change in the constitution. I like the definition of Marriage is fine the way it is. I’m Voting No.

    1. pedeyw

      Which is fine, I guess, as long as you understand that that is inherently discriminatory.

    2. Don Pidgeoni

      And fine as long as you realise there is no current definition of marriage under the constitution so what exactly are you changing in the constitution?

  9. fluffybiscuits

    If a No referendum passes No voters, gay people will still adopt, foster, have surrogate children etc. Nothing changes. What you will be doing is denying couples the same protection hetrosexuals have. You might be sick of hearing all about this and know what Im sorry you are but its getting stupid at this stage, Im depending on you people to give me my rights – would this occur to black people, Jewish people? Why should I be any different from my orientation? Give me whats rightfully mine. I spent long enough fighting for womens rights, fathers rights, travellers rights, in fact anyone who you care to think of as a minority. My emotions are running high coming close to this referendum..just fupping give me what should be rightfully mine and be done with it.

    1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

      It’s not giving something to another section of the community, it’s returning something we shouldn’t have had in the first place.

  10. donkey_kong

    what will really swing it is the celebrity endorsements…like I was on the fence till cian healy abused anybody even thinking of a no vote…and that hipster from love/hate throwing his oar in …the final knife was robbie keane….eh tu robbie? …. ….oh sweet jesus spare us the all knowledgeable folk with a media profile.

    1. Odis

      Isn’t it a bitch, to be torn between logic and loathing? I so wish the Yes campaign was/had been, less crass.

      1. donkey_kong

        yeah you pretty much nailed it. I remember in paris people voting in a presidential election in the 2nd round with pegs on their nose voting for somebody that didn’t like cos they hated LePen even more.
        I feel like this now.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          So because some celebrities are involved, you don’t like the campaign? That is very silly.

          1. Odis

            @ Don
            Let me explain it to you.

            The logic of the question being posed in referendum (to a heterosexual) points undoubtedly to a Yes vote. After all it doesn’t matter to you, in any event. And gays believe it will make them happier.

            However when people you dislike and don’t respect, tell you that if you vote No – you are a knuckle dragging **** etc. And we aren’t just talking about loathsome celebrities here, we are talking about politicians and hipsters.
            Then they are, in effect, offering you a wonderful opportunity to upset them.

            And since their isn’t any real difference between marriage and civil partnership – (despite the 163 we are told about). Then the temptation to stick it to the above,
            is quite real.

            Logic V Loathing. (Seduced by the Dark Side – whatever).

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            Must be pretty sensitive bunnies if Bressie or whoever telling you how to vote gets you all upset. Maybe have a lie down.

          3. Annie

            @Odis – You presuppose that the vast majority of straight people are predisposed to voting Yes?! That is simply a fallacy and while the country is by and large politically conservative, still somewhat agrarian and emerging from a long history of religious dominance particularly in the area of sexual mores, you assume that there is some magic strong libertarian streak by which most of the Irish electorate will logically be in favour of marriage equality because it is of no real concern to them and who are they to deny a minority certain rights? And a No vote is simply induced by an overzealous Yes campaign demonising their opponents as troglodytes? Were this only the case! No matter how nice, polite and respectful the Yes campaign is or can be, the fact remains, there is a substantial amount of people culturally hardwired to be socially conservative, particularly in rural Ireland as rural TDs are finding out. They are not homophobes, don’t generally wish ill of gay people however they are not predisposed to marriage equality in any sense and no amount of rational argument will cause them to change their gut-instinct. This is the reality. It will change in future years but if this Referendum is carried and I desperately hope so, it will be by the slimmest of margins due to our electorate political profile.

  11. Annie

    I am a passionate Yes supporter but does anyone actually believe these Marriage Referendum polls?

    Despite what younger people may think, Ireland is still a largely agrarian society with all its positive and negative implications. There is still a strong sense of community in rural Ireland but in terms of embracing difference, only slight deviations from what is perceived to be the norm are permitted. I don’t think rural Ireland is overwhelmingly homophobic and most people are prepared to tolerate gay people and generally let them live in peace. But it is a tolerance that implies that these people must be content to remain outsiders and not upset the proverbial apple cart. This is a tolerance but not full acceptance. Sadly, it is well known that low levels of tolerance as opposed to open hostility can give rise to even greater discrimination. At some level I agree with Eoghan Harris, that a lot of people still nurture base prejudices and simply cannot get over seeing gay and lesbian people as other however dehumanising and illogical it may. Most people are not going to engage in any great enquiry about the referendum, the vast majority will not watch debates and most arguments will soar over their heads. It is not because they are inordinately stupid but in reality the Referendum does not matter at any emotional level to the vast majority of the electorate and therefore sound bites and gut instinct reaction will take the place of any great thought.

    Ultimately, I firmly believe that if the Yes side win, it will be by the slimmest of margins. While most pundits argue that the Referendum is the Yes sides to lose, I rather think it is the opposite case. Make No mistake the Shy No vote is huge, with some Yes campaigners privately admitting that counties such Donegal, Longford, Cavan and Monaghan are already write-offs. Perhaps now is not the time but at some stage it will inevitably happen but not for a decade or so. Ireland is not ever going to be a pioneer in terms of social rights. My own opinion always lended itself to waiting a few years longer, more acute now given the cynical and mendacious conflation with the CFR legislation. I desperately hope for a Yes vote and am doing my bit but neither am I living in cloud-cuckoo land regarding the strength of a reactionary No vote. In the USA, it took nearly 50 years, once segregation laws were swept away, for the vast majority of the populace to fully accept interracial marriage. The time line may be quicker now for marriage for same-sex couples, but not as quick as people think, even in the most liberal of societies.

    1. yrtnuocecnareviled

      I was disturbed to see a post on R3ddit yesterday showing poll results in the lead-up to the divorce referendum.
      Regularly polls showed 70% plus in favour.
      The result was 50.3% for, 49.7% against.
      This referendum has not been won.
      Please support our canvassing because a lot of people are ill informed or misinformed.
      The catholic hate machine still thrives out here beyond The Pale.

          1. Joe the Lion

            Who said anything about hating Catholics? He referred to catholic hate, of the religion not of congregants. Pretty obvious unless you’re using strict mental reservation.

        1. yrtnuocecnareviled

          I guess you are lucky your family doesn’t blame their disease and misfortune on a gay relative.
          It has been very difficult for our mother who loves and cherishes our family and for that has been disowned by her own.

          1. yrtnuocecnareviled

            Some Catholics disown their own relations for being gay.
            The Catholic Church implicitly and explicitly supports bigotry.

    2. newsjustin

      I read Una Mullally’s piece this morning in the IT.

      She outlines the heroic efforts of the Yes campaign in her local area (I don’t doubt it). But then goes on to suggest the same is true all over the country “along the highways and byways, around homesteads where they’d knock on the door and start a conversation about the upcoming vote.”

      I just suspect she’s not being realistic in assuming the campaign in her area is replicated around the country.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Every thing Una says should be taken with a pinch of salt, she’s a tendency to be hyperbolic and make stuff up…. according to Una, you sir, are a potential rapist, as am I, just for being male.

        Best ignored, most of the time.

    1. donkey_kong

      give her respect she deserves and stop being so patronising – she wants to vote no …the priest is a side issue – if she wanted to vote yes she would priest or no priest.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            Grandma has the right to use her vote how she wants, though I don’t know why she would want to hurt her grandkids like that. I have to right to call her a dick.

          2. ToolBag

            Its people like you who make people want to be tolerant and think of others. Thanks.

        1. ahyeah

          And granny is an argument against universal suffrage in herself. And if the Catholic church hasn’t already done enough damage in this country, now it’s interfering with our democratic process by coercing weak-minded grannies into voting a particular way.

          1. Bort

            My lovely Granny, in her nineties, is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met but……….as well as insisting on voting no, is also massively anti-abortion, she loves to debate politics and any topic but when it comes to abortion, divorce, same sex marriage her only reasoing is that she will vote as directed by the Catholic Church. She will also never discuss any negative to do with the church be it sadistic nuns or pedophile priests. Truly bizarre, on everything else she’s open minded but will not stand for a bad word against the church, she wouldn’t even watch Father Ted. And I know from family history that her brothers and own sons had very bad time of it from the priests and christian brothers at school. She will be out vote and tow the Catholic line come hell or high water and there are tens of thousands more like her.

  12. barton

    Ii’s odd that Iona say they don’t have the resources to canvass, canvassers are volunteers, so…what’s Quinn on about? Has the price of fear and misinformation suddenly sky-rocketed?

  13. ToolBag

    Welcome to the brave new world of equality! And if you don’t our equality, you can fupp off you knuckledragging altar boy!

  14. Drogg

    I wonder are those hundreds of no voters the ronan mullins met the same people who said they’d vote him into Europe. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

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