By Olivia Dawson
The countdown to May 22nd is on and here in the University of Limerick, campaigning has just begun around campus.
Out in UL, a society for LGBT students here on campus, started their canvassing earlier this week. Having participated in a workshop with Ken Curtin of Yes Equality Cork on how to canvas, Out in UL President, Marielle Xuereb believes they can now campaign in every area of campus effectively.
“We’re trying to target every end of campus. We’ve been talking to various groups within the university and they’ve all been so interested in pitching in and doing their part so hopefully everything from Red Raisin to the courtyard, and to north campus will be covered.”
On February 25th the Union General Meeting (UGM) passed a motion stating that the Students’ Union would support a yes vote in the upcoming marriage referendum. Since then the SU has been working with various club and societies, including Out in UL, organising events to raise awareness and to show their support for the campaign.
“A campaign team has been set up including members from the Welfare team, the Equal Opps working group (A Subcommittee of UL Student Council) and students from the General Population of UL”, said SU President, Tommy Bolger.
“They are currently working on campaign material and liaising with GLEN to have a co-ordinated and unified message in the larger Limerick campaign.”
As well as canvassing on campus, Gardaí will be in the SU every Wednesday from 2:30pm-4pm signing registration forms. This has been a successful aspect of the campaign so far and the turnout to register has been phenomenal, insisted Tommy.
“Last week the queue to register stretched from the first floor all the way down the stairs and to the front door of the building.”
Speaking with Yes Equality Limerick’s Dave Cuddihy, he assured that all college campuses in Limerick would be catered to in the lead up to the referendum.
“Due to the amount of students in Limerick we have a dedicated student liaise who will engage the different clubs, societies and organisations in the colleges and keep them informed with the campaign.”
“We realise that students are one of our key demographics in this referendum with huge volumes across the country being first time voters. We are confident that the students of Limerick and Ireland will be a key element in this campaign.”
When asked what Yes Equality Limerick would be doing in terms of canvassing for support, he guaranteed that we will see many volunteers out on the streets and going from door to door.
“It has been proven time after time that the key to winning any referendum in this country is to get out and engage with the people on the ground. Our volunteers will be out on the streets meeting and talking to people and letting them know how much the referendum passing will mean to them.”
Dealing with opposition is part and parcel of every campaign and this referendum is no different. With the No side placing their emphasis on a child’s right to both a mother and a father, I asked Mr Cuddihy whether he believes the Yes side’s campaigning is appealing to people’s emotions to the same extent.
“In essence the members of our community are appealing to the Irish public to allow them the right to marry the ones that they love. This is a hugely personal thing to do and by doing so, we are in essence putting our private and personal lives on show for the nation to see.”
He followed up by saying, “It is only through engaging with people on the issue that they see the personal faces behind the news stories. I firmly believe that it is these personal stories that will win this referendum.”
When asked whether he believes the referendum will pass, Mr Cuddihy replied, “This referendum will only be won when every single person who supports it commits to going to the polling station on May 22nd and to voting Yes; Yes for equality and Yes for Ireland’s future.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with Yes Equality Limerick can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find them on Facebook (YesEqualityLimerick) or Twitter (@EqualityLK). Similarly, anyone interested in getting involved with Out in UL’s canvassing can contact their campaign manager, Ashling Farrell at email@example.com.