23rd May 2015. The day when Ireland threw of the final shackles of its Catholic past and, as a nation, voted overwhelmingly for tolerance and fairness, said “no” to discrimination, said “yes” to gay marriage. 64% of the electorate voted, 62% of them voted “yes”; many people came #hometovote, a Twitter tag that they wear proudly.
My Irish friends expressed similar pride in their country and its people, quite rightly. I am also proud of the people of that island, an island that has seen so much strife and intolerance over the centuries, much of it caused by the people of the island I live in; the Irish are a resilient people, they pick themselves up, move on and start again, as my own great-great-grandfather showed when he moved from Waterford to London in the aftermath of the Great Famine.
We now need some of that resilience to pick ourselves up, to move on, to start again after the shame of our own recent General Election when the people of this island voted for greed, bigotry and intolerance; to paraphrase the words of another descendant of the Irish Diaspora, John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
We choose to so this not because it is easy, but because it is hard; ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
The people of Ireland showed us what grown up politics is all about yesterday. Time we learned to do it ourselves.