Limerick City constituency tally Marriage Equality Referendum 2015

DSCF6781DSCF6785DSCF6784Thank you to the amazing volunteers on the YesEquality Limerick team who worked so hard to tally almost every box of votes!

This tally is also available as a .csv file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet.

The tally for the Limerick constituency (county) is also available.

Box

% YES

Turnout

Yes

No

Spoilt

EA

Parteen NS 1 61% 41 25 16 0 Killaloe
Parteen NS 2 0 0 0 0 Killaloe
Parteen NS 3 68% 394 267 125 2 Killaloe
Scout Hall Shannon Banks 1 67% 451 295 145 11 Killaloe
Scout Hall Shannon Banks 2 66% 454 300 152 2 Killaloe
Scout Hall Shannon Banks 3 0 0 0 0 Killaloe
JF Kennedy NS 1 60% 283 169 114 0 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 2 56% 373 207 165 1 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 3 61% 436 266 167 3 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 4 63% 441 276 163 2 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 5 0 0 0 0 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 6 52% 387 201 182 4 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 1 71% 192 124 51 17 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 2 62% 226 139 87 0 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 3 64% 356 226 129 1 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 4 61% 383 230 150 3 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 5 60% 441 261 173 7 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 6 62% 272 165 103 4 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 7 63% 317 191 114 12 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 8 65% 319 203 108 8 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 9 64% 403 253 145 5 Limerick City North
Corpus Christi NS 1 70% 258 179 77 2 Limerick City North
Corpus Christi NS 2 72% 252 179 69 4 Limerick City North
Corpus Christi NS 3 70% 106 72 31 3 Limerick City North
Ballynanty Girls NS 72% 379 271 107 1 Limerick City North
St. Lelia’s NS Kileely 1 71% 328 228 94 6 Limerick City North
St. Lelia’s NS Kileely 2 65% 292 186 102 4 Limerick City North
Unitas Club High Road 1 59% 312 182 126 4 Limerick City North
Unitas Club High Road 2 0 0 0 0 Limerick City North
Hassett’s Cross CBS 1 61% 222 135 87 0 Limerick City North
Hassett’s Cross CBS 2 58% 256 146 106 4 Limerick City North
St. Munchin’s Temp Hall 57% 296 167 125 4 Limerick City North
St. Mary’s G Sch Bishop St 1 66% 127 82 42 3 Limerick City North
St. Mary’s G Sch Bishop St 2 68% 246 159 75 12 Limerick City North
St. Mary’s G Sch Bishop St 3 55% 200 109 91 0 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 1 68% 253 171 82 0 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 2 75% 333 250 83 0 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 3 61% 408 246 160 2 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 4 68% 292 198 92 2 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 5 56% 306 172 133 1 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 6 60% 326 190 128 8 Limerick City North
St. Patrick’s Boys NS 1 74% 293 214 75 4 Limerick City North
St. Patrick’s Boys NS 2 69% 243 166 75 2 Limerick City North
St. Patrick’s Boys NS 3 66% 233 154 79 0 Limerick City North
St. Johns GNS & Boys Sch 1 64% 309 196 112 1 Limerick City East
St. Johns GNS & Boys Sch 2 64% 320 200 114 6 Limerick City East
St. John Baptist Killalee 1 55% 157 85 70 2 Limerick City East
St. John Baptist Killalee 2 58% 201 115 82 4 Limerick City East
St. John Baptist Killalee 3 68% 287 191 90 6 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 1 68% 314 213 99 2 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 2 62% 347 215 131 1 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 3 64% 250 161 89 0 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 4 59% 307 180 125 2 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 5 63% 312 192 114 6 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 6 63% 367 225 134 8 Limerick City East
St. Enda’s Community Sch 1 64% 212 135 76 1 Limerick City East
St. Enda’s Community Sch 2 64% 164 103 59 2 Limerick City East
St. Enda’s Community Sch 3 78% 299 231 65 3 Limerick City East
Southill NS 68% 201 130 60 11 Limerick City East
Presentation Galvone 64% 372 238 134 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Seoirse 1 63% 135 84 50 1 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Seoirse 2 61% 120 72 47 1 Limerick City East
Our Lady QoP NS O’Donog 1 58% 314 179 130 5 Limerick City East
Our Lady QoP NS O’Donog 2 60% 321 192 127 2 Limerick City East
Our Lady QoP NS O’Donog 3 65% 277 179 96 2 Limerick City East
Presentation NS Sexton St 3 60% 257 151 102 4 Limerick City East
Presentation NS Sexton St 4 55% 141 78 63 0 Limerick City East
Donoughmore NS 56% 387 216 168 3 Limerick City East
Ahane NS 60% 370 223 146 1 Limerick City East
Lisnagry NS 1 65% 280 183 97 0 Limerick City East
Lisnagry NS 2 63% 431 265 158 8 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 1 68% 349 234 111 4 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 2 71% 352 249 103 0 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 3 64% 376 239 132 5 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 4 65% 276 179 95 2 Limerick City East
Milford NS 1 72% 226 160 61 5 Limerick City East
Milford NS 2 61% 240 145 94 1 Limerick City East
Milford NS 3 64% 286 182 102 2 Limerick City East
Milford NS 4 58% 281 160 117 4 Limerick City East
Milford NS 5 53% 258 136 120 2 Limerick City East
Montpelier Comm Ctr 58% 146 84 60 2 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 1 76% 390 291 93 6 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 2 79% 434 343 89 2 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 3 68% 374 251 116 7 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 4 70% 355 243 106 6 Limerick City East
Bohermore NS 68% 301 206 95 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 1 69% 382 264 118 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 2 75% 349 260 88 1 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 3 74% 327 241 86 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 4 65% 369 235 126 8 Limerick City East
Roxborough NS 59% 109 64 45 0 Limerick City East
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 3 66% 67 44 23 0 Limerick City East
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 1 56% 414 228 182 4 Limerick City West
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 2 0 0 0 0 Limerick City West
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 4 62% 173 106 66 1 Limerick City West
Scoil Mathair Dé 1 62% 354 219 135 0 Limerick City West
Scoil Mathair Dé 2 56% 343 190 151 2 Limerick City West
Scoil Mathair Dé 3 54% 226 119 103 4 Limerick City West
Model NS 1 61% 248 147 95 6 Limerick City West
Model NS 2 62% 222 136 84 2 Limerick City West
St. Michael’s NS 1 62% 259 160 98 1 Limerick City West
St. Michael’s NS 2 52% 217 111 104 2 Limerick City West
St. Michael’s NS 3 64% 280 178 99 3 Limerick City West
Presentation NS Sexton St 1 77% 95 72 22 1 Limerick City West
Presentation NS Sexton St 2 58% 93 54 39 0 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 1 67% 375 251 124 0 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 2 64% 368 233 133 2 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 3 68% 349 238 111 0 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 4 58% 359 207 150 2 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 5 61% 364 216 139 9 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 6 59% 405 236 166 3 Limerick City West
Co. Library Dooradoyle 1 74% 477 352 125 0 Limerick City West
Co. Library Dooradoyle 2 55% 278 152 126 0 Limerick City West
Co. Library Dooradoyle 3 65% 408 261 142 5 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 1 62% 481 293 178 10 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 2 60% 477 285 190 2 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 3 63% 434 274 158 2 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 4 63% 392 247 145 0 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 5 65% 424 273 148 3 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 6 66% 499 331 168 0 Limerick City West

Limerick (county) constituency tally Marriage Equality Referendum 2015

Thank you to the amazing volunteers on the YesEquality Limerick team who worked so hard to tally almost every box of votes!

This tally is also available as a .csv file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet.

Box % YES Turnout Yes No Spoilt EA
Roxborough NS 1 53% 442 233 203 6 Castleconnell (W)
Roxborough NS 2 57% 56 32 24 0 Castleconnell (W)
Ballybrown NS 1 56% 243 135 107 1 Adare (W)
Ballybrown NS 2 60% 299 180 118 1 Adare (W)
Ballybrown NS 3 52% 392 200 184 8 Adare (W)
Patrickswell NS 1 52% 293 150 138 5 Adare (W)
Patrickswell NS 2 56% 271 147 116 8 Adare (W)
Patrickswell NS 3 57% 211 119 90 2 Adare (W)
Killinure NS 59% 279 163 113 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Anglesborough NS 56% 306 170 136 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ballylanders NS 1 60% 258 156 102 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ballylanders NS 2 66% 156 103 53 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Galbally Comm Ctr 1 52% 237 122 112 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Galbally Comm Ctr 2 58% 266 142 104 20 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ardpatrick Comm Ctr 48% 259 124 135 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 1 46% 250 113 132 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 2 52% 286 144 134 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 3 50% 235 115 115 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 4 52% 174 87 80 7 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Athlacca NS 53% 65 30 27 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Effin NS 1 55% 152 83 68 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Effin NS 2 55% 314 173 141 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bilboa NS 57% 293 165 126 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Doon CBS 1 77% 195 150 44 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Doon CBS 2 55% 361 195 162 4 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruff NS 1 60% 358 213 144 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruff NS 2 61% 252 150 97 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruff NS 3 49% 284 139 142 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruree NS 1 58% 383 218 157 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruree NS 2 59% 395 232 160 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Martinstown NS 54% 182 96 81 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knocklong NS 1 58% 419 240 177 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knocklong NS 2 57% 254 142 105 7 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Caherline NS 60% 358 212 144 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Cloverfield NS 49% 214 104 108 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Caherconlish NS 1 66% 400 264 135 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Caherconlish NS 2 57% 344 195 146 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Herbertstown NS 56% 373 204 163 6 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Cappamore Comm Ctr 1 55% 340 175 142 23 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Cappamore Comm Ctr 2 53% 310 165 144 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Murroe NS 1 57% 419 237 181 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Murroe NS 2 57% 470 266 201 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Murroe NS 3 67% 419 279 140 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knockadea NS 45% 84 38 46 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Glenroe Parish Hall 58% 222 116 83 23 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Dromin Comm Ctr 56% 263 145 115 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Glenbrohane NS 52% 170 88 81 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knockea NS 59% 224 133 91 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
P’green Comm Ctr 1 54% 323 169 146 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
P’green Comm Ctr 2 0 0 0 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Hospital NS 1 45% 332 150 182 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Hospital NS 2 52% 266 136 125 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilbehenny NS 50% 216 108 106 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilfinane Pr Sch 1 64% 270 171 97 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilfinane Pr Sch 2 65% 262 170 91 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ballyorgan NS 55% 139 72 60 7 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilteely NS 53% 268 140 125 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knockainey NS 0 0 0 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Oola NS 1 51% 323 163 154 6 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Oola NS 2 50% 288 143 142 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Garrydoolis NS 46% 146 66 78 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Meanus Comm Ctr 55% 219 119 98 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Adare NS 1 59% 398 233 162 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Adare NS 2 58% 431 248 179 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Adare NS 3 58% 371 213 155 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Askeaton NS 1 56% 355 197 157 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Askeaton NS 2 54% 311 167 144 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Foynes NS 1 49% 272 131 139 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Foynes NS 2 51% 283 143 136 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballingarry NS 1 57% 162 92 70 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballingarry NS 2 52% 201 102 94 5 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballingarry NS 3 48% 207 97 104 6 Adare-Rathkeale
Rathkeale GNS 1 46% 331 150 177 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Rathkeale GNS 2 46% 246 113 131 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Rathkeale GNS 3 58% 222 125 92 5 Adare-Rathkeale
Coolcappa Comm Ctr 1 53% 256 133 120 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Coolcappa Comm Ctr 2 59% 281 165 116 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Caherelly NS 1 65% 380 248 132 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Caherelly NS 2 58% 475 275 199 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Caherelly NS 3 64% 169 99 56 14 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilfinny NS 49% 344 169 173 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Banogue NS 46% 170 76 91 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Kildimo NS 1 63% 413 259 152 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Kildimo NS 2 61% 362 218 142 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballysteen NS 49% 201 98 100 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Pallaskenry NS 1 58% 365 208 152 5 Adare-Rathkeale
Pallaskenry NS 2 59% 353 205 141 7 Adare-Rathkeale
Granagh NS 53% 211 111 100 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 1 51% 216 101 97 18 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 2 62% 220 135 82 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 3 51% 331 168 163 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 4 56% 126 71 55 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Croagh NS 1 54% 298 159 135 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Croagh NS 2 55% 324 165 133 26 Adare-Rathkeale
Kilcolman NS 55% 230 123 100 7 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballyhahill NS 57% 181 103 78 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Fedamore NS 1 60% 240 141 95 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Fedamore NS 2 51% 214 109 105 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Kilcornan NS 59% 428 247 173 8 Adare-Rathkeale
Crecora NS 51% 433 219 211 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Loghill NS 52% 173 85 79 9 Adare-Rathkeale
Cappagh (Nant) NS 53% 381 201 177 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Shanagolden NS 1 62% 166 102 63 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Shanagolden NS 2 50% 234 116 118 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Shanagolden NS 3 59% 198 116 81 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Ashford NS 51% 139 70 68 1 Newcastle
Raheenagh NS 46% 159 73 84 2 Newcastle
Ballyagran NS 53% 400 208 184 8 Newcastle
Kilmeedy NS 49% 262 126 132 4 Newcastle
Cloncagh Library 49% 293 139 147 7 Newcastle
Broadford Comm Ctr 1 49% 247 120 124 3 Newcastle
Broadford Comm Ctr 2 47% 262 122 138 2 Newcastle
Mahoonagh NS 1 50% 341 159 160 22 Newcastle
Mahoonagh NS 2 56% 225 125 98 2 Newcastle
Dromcollogher NS 43% 413 173 230 10 Newcastle
Feenagh NS 56% 297 165 132 0 Newcastle
Knockaderry Comm H 48% 263 124 134 5 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 1 54% 386 207 178 1 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 2 55% 323 174 145 4 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 3 55% 343 187 156 0 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 4 52% 224 104 96 24 Newcastle
Scoil Iosaf NCW 1 59% 343 199 139 5 Newcastle
Scoil Iosaf NCW 2 62% 310 191 115 4 Newcastle
Scoil Iosaf NCW 3 65% 327 211 114 2 Newcastle

Marriage is about friendship

DSCF6718
There are 6 days to go until Ireland votes whether to allow same-sex marriage.

The Limerick branch of the YesEquality campaign have been out knocking on doors every weeknight since 9th April. I’ve probably made it out for just over a third of those nights. I am by no means the most prolific, many more have been out more often than I have.

DSCF6727We usually meet at 6pm, after a brief set of introductions and a run through talking points, we head out and knock on doors. Anybody new is warmly welcomed and paired up with someone who has canvassed before. For 2 hours we knock on doors around an estate in Limerick City. About a half of people won’t be in or won’t feel like coming to the door. For the other half we get to have a conversation.

DSCF6737That conversation will go a number of different ways but overwhelmingly it is respectful. If someone comes to the door, invariably we apologise for bothering them. Whether a voter indicates that they are voting yes, or voting no, or are undecided, we ask them if they have any questions or concerns. And at the end of the conversation we thank them for their time.

DSCF6687I have witnessed the incredible strength and dignity of my fellow canvassers as they knock, smile, and ask; night after night. Most people, whether they are voting yes or no, are absolutely lovely. A small proportion are not. But I’m proud to say that I’ve not heard of one canvasser losing their cool. Think of how you would feel to knock on a stranger’s door to ask them for something that you desperately needed, only for them to call you abnormal, or unnatural. Even though this doesn’t happen very often, the fact that it always gets answered with ‘well sorry to bother you and thanks for taking the time to talk to me’ fills me with awe at my fellow canvassers strength and dignity.

DSCF6740I’m a little shy, and even though I have canvassed before as a member of the Green Party, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I think most of my fellow canvassers are the same: the organisation of this campaign has been remarkably free of ego, we’re not the type of people who are naturally inclined to shout from the rooftops, but we’re at your door because we want to ask, as respectfully as possible, for your vote.

IMG_2051There are times in your life when you make a lot of friends: when you start school or college, your work, or maybe a sport or hobby that you like to do with others. I’m old enough to have finished my education, I run a very small company, and most of my hobbies are fairly solitary, so I never thought that I would have one of those moments where I would make a lot of friends.
DSCF6715
But I think and hope that I have. I have met so many absolutely wonderful people over the past 6 weeks. They have reminded me that marriage is not just about love for your spouse, but about the friends beside you who enrich and support that relationship.

As I write this I am tired and sunburnt, my house is a mess, my feet have blisters and I haven’t seen my wife properly in a month (I am not unique – the irony of a marriage referendum campaign putting extreme stress on so many marriages and hoped-for-marriages is not lost on any of us…). But I think of my new friends, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet such a wonderful set of people.DSCF6657

This referendum is going to be very close. Despite what the polls say, I’ve knocked on enough doors to realise that nothing can be taken for granted.

The enemy of equality is not prejudice. The enemy of equality is complacency.

Please vote yes.DSCF6711

The right to marry

Irish voters will be asked on May 22nd 2015 if they want to allow equal access to marriage for all its citizens.

Many people are complacent that this referendum will pass with a huge majority.

I think they’re wrong.

A low turnout, coupled with the fact that people who are against marriage equality are very likely to vote, would result in a win for the No side.

Yes Equality Limerick canvassers
And what a lovely bunch of canvassers we were

With that in mind, I joined the first door-to-door canvass of the Limerick Yes Equality campaign this evening.

Research shows that the primary thing that changes voters minds is being canvassed.

The weather was glorious, we had a lovely group of people canvassing, and our message that a Yes vote couldn’t be taken for granted was getting a positive reception with people.

Four of us had canvassing experience (two of us were from the Green Party, one from Labour, and one who had canvassed for an Independent candidate), and so we paired off with people who were knocking on doors for the very first time.

Normally I wouldn’t be conscious of peoples’ sexual orientation, but this time it was different.  It was different because those of us who were straight were simply doing some campaigning on a political issue.

The people in our group who are gay were asking people for permission to have the right to get married.

That seems wrong to me.  They shouldn’t have to ask.  Those of us that already have the right to marry should be working as hard as we can to ensure our gay friends, brothers and sisters have the same right.

So even if you think the marriage equality referendum doesn’t directly affect you, please think about joining your local canvassing team for the Yes Equality campaign. If you’re in Limerick, a quick email to yesequalitylimerick@gmail.com will get a quick response.  If you live elsewhere in Ireland, you can find your local group at https://www.yesequality.ie/yes-equality-map/

My wedding day
The happiest day of my life

The day I got married was the happiest day of my life.  I passionately believe in marriage, and being married has been a consistent and powerful force for good in my life.

Those of us who have the right to get married need to step up to the plate and go door to door on behalf of those who don’t have that right.

 

 

 

Getting married?

I’m going to a party tonight.

Friends of ours in Limerick are having a party tonight. A young couple, just about to buy their own house. They are successful in their careers, are active in helping to make Limerick a better place. My wife and I are lucky to be friends with them. We were delighted when they came back from holiday recently and announced they were engaged. There’s not much to be cheerful about these days, but two fantastic people looking to commit their lives to each other is surely something to be celebrated.

Except they can’t.

Two people in love, people of integrity, intelligence and a deep-rooted commitment to making their communities better. Two people in love looking to get married.

Except they can’t.

They can’t because we as a society seem to believe because they are of the same gender, they are less equal than heterosexual couples and can’t get married.

I’m a bit ashamed that I live in a society where some couples are less equal than me and my wife. And it’s about time we changed that.

I’ve read a lot of arguments on why we should continue to discriminate against gay couples. I know that some religious people have a difficulty with gay marriage, but I would respectfully suggest that religious beliefs, even when they are in a majority, are not a licence to discriminate against our fellow citizens.

There are two other arguments that I wanted to touch on however, and they both centre around children.

The first is that marriage is primarily about children, therefore gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married. This argument pushes my buttons a bit because I am in a marriage where we cannot have children, and I would be extremely upset if anyone insinuated that my marriage was in any way less valid than my friends’ just because we don’t have kids. The love I have for my wife and my commitment to my marriage is no less strong because we can’t have kids, and I think it’s faintly ridiculous to view marriage purely in terms of reproduction.

The second is that kids suffer if they don’t have a mummy and a daddy. It’s true that kids can be cruel to each other some times. And some kids, no doubt picking up on the intolerance of their parents, may tease kids whose circumstances are that little bit different to their own. I remember being about six or seven and having stones thrown at me on the way home from school with the words “Proddy” followed by epithets that seven year-olds probably shouldn’t have been using. But the concept that we might stop members of the Church of Ireland, like my parents, from getting married because of the possible reaction from some County Limerick yokels is surely ridiculous. And it’s a cheap trick to use children as an argument to promote intolerance.

It’s no longer conscionable that we continue to discriminate against gay couples. The restriction of marriage to heterosexual couples is an embarrassing anachronism. I hope that my friends, and gay couples around the country, do not have to wait for too much longer before they are allowed to get married.

Moyross, Education, and changing the debate

Every Tuesday evening I volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul, giving leaving certificate Maths grinds to secondary school students in Moyross, Limerick.  It’s been ten years since I last taught in a classroom setting and it’s a nice reminder of the buzz you get when teaching, getting to witness that ‘aha’ moment when one of the students grasps a concept.

Corpus Christi primary school in Moyross, taken last week as I was going in to give my maths grind
Corpus Christi primary school in Moyross, taken last week as I was going in to give my maths grind

Moyross is an area known to many Irish people as one of the most disadvantaged areas in Ireland and the statistics bear this out: according to the Census 2011 Small Area data, the area around Corpus Christi primary school where I go to give the grinds has well over 50% unemployment, nearly 80% of families have only one parent, and less than 5% of adults have a third level eduction [1].  Yet despite the fact that many people from Limerick would never venture this direction it’s actually quite a pleasant place to stroll through: one of the few places you would ever see kids kicking a ball around on the street for example.

Teaching for two hours a week in Moyross isn’t going to drastically change the education landscape, granted, but for me it’s an important contribution.  The culture of ‘grinds’ is well-embedded in the Irish education system, and it’s almost compulsory to get some form of extra tuition to help you through your leaving cert.  This works well for kids who have parents wealthy enough to pay for it (and, anecdotally, many working teachers seem happy to accept payment in cash for this work without bothering the taxman), but for kids who don’t have access to wealthy parents, it puts them at an immediate disadvantage.  I used to rent a house in Dublin where over 75% of my neighbours had a third level education: again the equivalent statistic for the area around the primary school where I teach is less than 5%.  It’s sad to think that our system might be serving to maintain or even widen that gap, rather than close it.

It would be naive to assume that there are easy solutions here, but it’s always struck me that we’ve never managed to have a good discussion about education in this country.  We spend a lot of time talking about inputs (e.g. teacher’s salaries, class sizes and the size of the education budget), but little time thinking about educational outputs and outcomes.  Focusing on our standardised test results in literacy, numeracy and science might be a start.  The 2009 OECD PISA report (results of a standardised test of 15 year-olds across 65 countries) ranks Ireland 21st out of 65 for reading, 32 out of 65 for maths, and 20 out of 65 for science (data taken from this PDF report, from the table on page 15).  Perhaps not extremely shabby, but not exactly wonderful either, especially for a small society hoping to get out of a recession through reaping the benefits of the knowledge economy.

One of our problems is that the debate about education in Ireland is mostly about the producers (i.e. the teachers) rather than the consumers (i.e. the students).  Not that I’m trying to apply some third-rate business thinking to our education system, it’s just that when most of the discussion about education comes from teacher’s unions, who for good reason are concerned primarily about their members’ pay and conditions, we end up missing the point a bit. I don’t have an irrational hatred for the teaching profession or their trade unions – for the record I think the teaching unions do a great job in advocating for their members (indeed, their professional approach makes me think that we’re not making the best of the organising ability of some of our best teachers…), I just think we as a society need to shift the debate a bit on to how we can improve educational outcomes for all our children, but particularly those who live in the country’s most disadvantaged areas.

When I was in first year in college, I shared with an American, Tim, who is now president of TNTP, an American non-profit which focuses on working “with schools, districts and states to provide excellent teachers to the students who need them most and advance policies and practices that ensure effective teaching in every classroom”.  I’d love to see a similar organisation in Ireland, advocating for more effective teaching, including better teacher evaluation systems.  Another innovation across the water that I’d love to see in Ireland is Teach for America, a programme which recruits graduates (mostly from the top Ivy League schools – competition is fierce to get in) to teach for two years in inner-city schools.

I did supply teaching for a few months in Ireland before I headed off to Ghana to do volunteer work for two years – I loved the teaching but it was the atmosphere in the staff room which put me off any notions I had of training to be a teacher when I returned from Africa.  It wasn’t just that I was the only one with a lesson plan and a scheme of work, but the pervasive atmosphere of cynicism and unprofessionalism put me off.  My heart goes out to committed teachers who have to put up with that every day.

The kids that I teach every week in Moyross are great, they’re eager, intelligent, funny, and ambitious for their future.  Teaching them makes me optimistic about the future.  I only hope we can give them the education system they deserve to fulfil their potential.

[1] – see http://maps.pobal.ie – you’ll need a Silverlight plugin and a few hours to waste – really this is nerdvana for stats-minded political people…