“I am very proud to be a Cork woman.” That was the reaction of Kathy Darcy, chair of Cork Together For Yes as all constituencies in the city and county voted in favour of repeal.
She has been campaigning on this issue for years and said disbelief was the first feeling when the exit polls came out.
“We never expected this,” she said. “I have been on doorsteps canvassing and been on street stalls and I have seen the groundswell coming and coming, especially in the last two weeks but we never expected a landslide.
“It is just so heartening to see that the people of Ireland are behind us. They are behind us for this, they are behind us for legislation. They have spoken unequivocally.” She paid tribute to the work of all the canvassers, urban and rural.
“We walked the county, I think we had 15 groups active throughout the county. They were volunteers, people who might have had no previous experience and they were out every day, working so hard and I am so proud of them.
“It got a momentum of its own, almost every day for a few weeks we were getting contacted by a new group. And those groups have done such hard work, it is hard work canvassing in rural areas, it is not the same as canvassing in the city, even getting canvassing materials and resources is difficult. They have worked so so hard and I think everyone in Cork can be proud of this result.” While the size of the victory was not anticipated, their canvassers saw a lot of support around the city and county.
“Since the get-go, our canvassers have been seeing it. It has always been positive, maybe not overwhelmingly positive like we are seeing today, there was obviously a silent yes. But is has been always positive, we were so surprised to see rural areas in north Cork, the far edges of the county, all coming back with positive reports. All our canvassers had uplifting experiences all the time.”
Cork East TD David Stanton said yesterday the referendum campaigns had been conducted in a positive way and it is an aspect Ms Darcy wanted from the start.
“We were very committed to being positive. We interacted with people in a respectful way, not trying to manipulate or bully anybody, just having conversations. That is how you enable people to think about things, and give them the space to ask questions. I feel very proud that we did that and I am delighted that people can say that, this campaign was respectful. That is something that was very important to me.”
Ms Darcy also wanted to pay tribute to the Cork individuals couples and families who shared their stories, including Annie Roche, Tim and Susan Corcoran and Evie Nevin.
“The people of TFMR are the people I am thinking about most today,” she said. “I’m thinking about how they should have been able to get help years ago, this should have happened years ago. And tomorrow, they can stop telling their heartbreaking stories over and over again, asking and they can go back to their lives secure in the knowledge that in the near future we will start to care properly for those people.
She also wanted to acknowledge the work of Cork politicians, including those like Micheál Martin and Simon Coveney, who changed their position on the issue.
“I do admire the bravery of people in leadership positions, making difficult decisions and thinking hard,” she said. “I think both of those have shown that they did think hard, they questioned their own beliefs and had the bravery and principles to come out and say I have done some thinking and I have changed my position. I think that was great.” Ms Darcy is already looking toward the next stage: “The next few days are going to be about thank you and then we are going to get to work on legislation.”