Both Galway constituencies gave a solid Yes to last week's Marriage Equality referendum, but while Galway West was always expect to vote in favour, Galway East defied predictions of supporting the No side, by instead opting to support the proposal.
The State voted by 62.07 per cent to 37.93 per cent in favour of same-sex civil marriage. The Galway West vote very closely reflected this at 61.5 per cent to 38.5 per cent. Voter turn-out though was 55.18 per cent - lower than the national turn out of 60.52 per cent. The turn-out in Galway East was slightly higher at 56 per cent. The result was much closer here at 53.28 (Yes ) to 46.72 (No ), although in the run up to polling day, many had believed the constituency would have been more likely to vote No.
In Galway city the Yes vote was 65 per cent - a little below the Dublin result (low seventies ) but very comparable to Cork and Limerick; Connemara polled c60 in favour; while the Oranmore/Athenry/Headford region was close behind at 59 per cent Yes. Breaking down the figures further, Connemara, like Galway East, defied predictions it was more likely to go No, but areas like An Spideál and Furbo recorded 67 per cent in favour, An Cheathrú Rua was 62.6 per cent, Rossaveal retured a Yes majority of 58 per cent, while Leenane reached 76 per cent and Cleggan went to 74.
The results show little in the way of any real urban/rural divide. While there are occasional low points in each area, it is only among the small villages in the Oranmore are that you see it becoming keenly contested. This is not surprising give the vote in the neighbouring Galway East constituency. However, the tallies which came back from Oranmore area will worry senator Fidelma Healy-Eames who was a very vocal supporter of a No vote, especially as she looks towards Election 2016. Her native Maree voted c60 per cent in favour of the referendum, while Oranmore was also around the 60 per cent mark.
The Yes victory in County Galway is largely due to the tireless efforts of YesEquality Galway, through its canvassing, posters, and a variety of imaginative events it, and those sympathetic to its aims, ran. That said, Government TDs Derek Nolan, Brian Walsh, and Sean Kyne, were noticeable in speaking in favour of marriage equality, while posters by Sinn Féin and smaller parties were also noticeable.
This, however, also served to highlight the relative absence of Fianna Fáil from the campaign. Little if any FF posters could be seen, while it representatives were practically mute on the issue. The criticisms made nationally of the party by former member Sen Averil Power that FF were applying a rather cynical approach - in favour of the referendum, but not speaking publically for fear of losing support from more conservative voters - would appear to hold true in Galway as well. FF's lack of presence in the campaign and seeming lack of interest in it, could create the impression among voters that it is not fully engaged with issues of importance, thus making any serious comeback in the county all the harder to achieve.