Hey everyone Yesterday was a great day and I was to paraphrase a song from my youth in the mood for dancing. This had nothing to do with The Nolans or the fact that I backed Sweden to win the Eurovision song contest though it does have something to do with The Nolans country of origin.
Unless you have just arrived on earth from the people’s republic of Jupiter in which case may I offer you earthly greetings and salutations you will probably know that the Nolans hail from Ireland. This small country on the edges of northern Europe has often been much maligned particularly by opponents of Scottish Independence who seem to take great delight in mocking the achievements of small nations. Indeed those of us who campaigned for a yes vote in last September’s rerferendum were often told by opponents more interested in ermine than equality that should vote to place their union in peril we would be as poor and uncultured as Ireland. Not only that, they then claimed we would have to do without the world class BBC.
The fact the Ireland as a land of playwrights, poets, and musicians has a reputation for punching above its weight and which a Scotland restricted within the social and cultural pereametres of a union which refuses to listen to their needs will never come close to emulating matters not to these people. Well why let the truth get in the way of a good story.
This weekend however the story is set in the country they have often mocked as being backward and less sophisicated than ‘their’ United Kingdom and the story is going global and making headlines all over the world.
It is a story with two themes which like interwoven threads in a quilt or a tapestry cannot be unconnected. The themes are equality and trust in the people’s ability to make good decisions based on informed choices. You see on Friday the people of Ireland were asked by their government to decide by public vote whether or not the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender population of their country should be allowed have equality in marriage with their heterosexual countrymen and women. This was the government said far too important an issue to be left to the will of polliticans.
To understand why this was the case one needs to understand that Ireland’s constitution requires that any major change to the constitution be subject to the will not of the parliament but the people.
In a country where religion has always had an important place, the result was expected to be close. The no campaign had the clergy behind it and this may explain its popularity among older voters but in the end Ireland took the boldest step of any nation on earth and became the first country in the world to approve marraige equality by public vote. Addressing the country after the result of the vote Irish Premier Enda Kenny said that with this result ‘a small country had made a big statement on equality’.
As a transwoman of Irish-Scots heritage I watched the result with interest and was immensely proud that the people had not only spoken they had spoken decisively for a fairer more inclusive land where embracing change would be seen as the best way forward. Let it be said and said with pride the people of Ireland are not afraid to take chances, indeed if truth be told, I think you will find the reserve is true.
In 1916, the people of Ireland took a chance on declaring their Independence from what was at that time the biggest empire of the modern era. Though many of their leaders were tried and executed for treason a crime of which in my opinion no freedom fighter can ever be found guilty. The longer term vision of independence would be won as the deaths of those heroes had sown the seeds of nationhood.
Now as we near the end of May 2015 it is almost a century on from that Easter rising but the battle fought and won this weekend was no less important. In fact in many ways it was even more so. You see this was a fight not for a nation that victory had already been secured, this was a fight for fairness within that nation this was a fight for equality and when we look back on this historic result we will realise the importance of the rainbow rising in shaping the new dawn for her people and why it put me in the mood for dancing.
Love And Best Wishes. Gayle X