Ireland: Thousands register to vote ahead of marriage referendum

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Thousands of people have been registered to vote in Ireland, ahead of the country’s planned referendum on same-sex marriage.

The Republic of Ireland, which introduced civil partnerships in 2011, is set to vote next May on extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.

This month, equality groups joined together to form Yes Equality, and encourage young and disenfranchised people to register to vote – amid fears that low turnout and powerful religious groups could hinder attempts for marriage equality.

The deadline for entry to the 2015 register of electors passed yesterday – though there will be another chance to register for the referendum nearer the time.

A number of Irish celebrities came out to urge people to vote, including Dara Ó Briain, The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, and actor Colin Farrell.

Tiernan Brady of Yes Equality said: “The response from people right across the country has been amazing.

“Tens of thousands have registered to vote and thousands more have joined Yes Equality. The positive reaction bodes well for turnout at the upcoming referendum on civil marriage equality in 2015.

“But registering to vote is only the first step. Next year will be a once-in-a-generation moment. The critical decisions about our futures are made by those who not only are registered, but who make their voices heard on polling day.

“There will be a further opportunity to register to vote once the date of the referendum is called.

“Between now and then, it is up to the tens of thousands of people energised by our voter initiative to begin the conversation with friends, families and loved ones as to why making their voices heard on polling day is so important.”

There are currently no plans to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.