A large majority of the Irish (65 per cent) voted to remove blasphemy from their constitution in a national referendum on 26 October. Especially young people supported the change: 80 per cent of all Irish under 35 voted ‘yes’. With this decision, the inhabitants of Ireland distance themselves further from their strong catholic heritage. Earlier this year abortion was legalised and since 2015 homosexuals can marry.
‘This referendum and the previous referenda on abortion and gay marriage dominated talk in Ireland quite a lot, because they had a high direct impact on the country. I talk about these issues a lot with my friends. We still have a lot of catholic-influenced laws in our country which are outdated and I’m glad they are changing. In some cases we’re not even aware we have them.
I found it surprising that there was a higher yes vote now compared to the gay marriage referendum. Both were accepted though. The abortion referendum of last May is a really good example of why these laws should be revisited. The catholic church considers abortion a sin and believes the foetus has as many rights as the woman. Because of the law against abortion it was impossible to have a legal, safe abortion in Ireland. So women who needed an abortion had to travel to England or to mainland Europe.
Since I don’t live in Ireland now, I read the news to keep up with everything. I want to know what’s happening back home; that’s important I think. In the Netherlands, the Irish news doesn’t automatically crop up in your everyday life and it is easy to lose sight of it.’