You had ONE JOB.
For fucks sake…..
This referendum was a clean shot, man. In a country known for divisive votes on things like abortion, citizenship and on fiscal matters this was going to be a cake walk. All the government and other major political parties had to do was beat out Dana and John Waters. Every major children’s charity was behind it. The Catholic church was behind it. The no campaign was so small and insubstantial there was not one single organization with No vote posters. Nutters like Dana and Waters took to the stage. Polls had the referendum passing with 75% of the vote.
What on earth could go wrong?
Now the supreme court has ruled that materials published by the Department of Children are not impartial and unbiased and that they are to cease distribution. In a country already going through serious daddy issues with the state this is a shambles for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s confusing everybody about where to get information from. A lot of people think that this ruling refers to the referendum commission’s literature- that’s the yellow booklet sent out to houses. The commission works independently of the government of the day and it’s mandated to produce impartial facts about an upcoming referendum. the ruling here was on a separate booklet and website (Taken offline after the ruling and then re-launched with severely pruned content) that was produced with public money in the department. It’s entirely separate from the commission yet most people even before today have come to me with two separate complaints about the literature
1) it’s never unbiased
2) it’s too complicated to read
The problem is that simple language often isn’t sufficient to examine the nuances of legal language. The commissions booklet it more difficult to understand because it has to carefully word itself. The language and content must be impartial and not advocate either side. Now whatever your personal opinion on how true this impartiality is it must be stated the commission are not the ones who have been scolded in this. It’s Frances Fitzgerald and the department of Children. You can’t really win. Either you’re being manipulated or it’s too dense to understand. The mood around the people now is pretty glum. Nobody seems to feel any connection or power over our institutions.
Secondly, it’s only compounding the insecurity most Irish people have now about referendums. It’s such a pitiful state of affairs when in the middle of a conversation about the issues surrounding the amendment somebody shrugs and says ‘sure if we vote no they’ll just run it again.’ Something changed when the government ran Lisbon again. It was a breaking point for years of people who were sick of being pushed around. Instead of rioting like in Greece we just sort of… accept it. Sadly, with a shrug. So many people have lost faith that they even have a voice anymore. Repeating a referendum because the government didn’t get the ‘right answer’ will be something that haunts Irish politics. Something fundamental has cracked in us.
It just feels sometimes like the government plods along without really seeing us- We the people can’t make any actual, effective difference. ‘Sure they’ll just run the vote again’ is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. I’m big into civic duty. I think that everyone should use their vote as it was hard fought for and in the world we have no there’s no excuse to be ill informed or disengaged. I read in the Herald an account given from an Irish man who on the day of the US election went walking in the hills of San Francisco with 4 middle class non-voters in their early 20s who said that they just didn’t feel they understood the issues of the election enough.
I’m sorry? Middle class 20 somethings living in a major first world city found it difficult to be informed about the goddamn US ELECTION? I was well fucking informed on it from 5000 miles away. I don’t even care what or who anyone votes for- the excuse that you just don’t ‘get’ politics doesn’t hold up. My 81 year old grandfather left school before he was 14 and he votes. My parents vote, and I vote. It’s important because it effects your life in the most crucial ways- How much tax you pay, your rights, your public services. Being in your 20s, college educated (which I think is what’s implied by being middle class) and not trapped in poverty gives you a certain amount of privilege. Just like using the washing machine or the dishwasher it’s a feature of life that you have to get used to. It’s not that hard.
Keep your eyes open and read some boring things about it. In most people’s gut they have a feeling of what they are. Whether you think we’re all in this together and need to pool our resources or that we’re each independent beings that shouldn’t have to support strangers, people should vote. End of.
This should have been an easy win for the Yes. With the loudest voices in the no camp being the maddest and the sheer presence of the Yes campaign, it should have been one of the least controversial things ever. Unfortunately now it’s just another dent in the public’s trust in their civil society.
Niamh ‘Seriously how could ye mess this up’ Keoghan