DCU Students’ Union, along with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), held a major Voter Registration Drive last Thursday in order to push students to register their vote prior to the upcoming marriage referendum.
An estimated 800 signatures were collected on the day with sign-ups taking place in stations all around campus.
This major voter registration drive was an initiative by the USI and GLEN to make sure young people were registered to vote prior to the upcoming marriage equality referendum in 2015.
Welfare Officer for the SU, Eve Kerton along with Gillian McInerney, Chairperson of the LGBTA Society in DCU, fronted the voter registration drive in DCU last week and collected voter registration forms off students for the past number of weeks.
Eve says she was “delighted” with the turnout at last week’s drive and says that this referendum is something students are really engaged in.
“I think this is the only time I’ve seen students actually want to get involved” she says.
I went into a lecture hall yesterday and I went to the top of the class and I asked, ‘Who wants to register to vote?’ and maybe one or two put their hands up. Then when I said to them, ‘If you don’t register this time around you will not be able to vote in the equal marriage referendum’, then all the hands shot up”.
Eve admits that, like a lot of students, she only registered to vote in the past few weeks.
“I just never felt interested or passionate enough. I always felt that if I was to vote, it wasn’t going to make any difference. Whereas, I know this one will. And I know that’s what other young people are thinking too”.
The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) also helped register students on the day and Patrick Sweeney, a representative from GLEN, says their nationwide campaign has been going strong.
“The reception’s been great…In UCC in the last few weeks we’ve had over 3,000 people registering and IT Carlow registered 800 people in a matter of days. DCU had a great turnout also” he says.
“We’ve had people like Angelica Heuston, Colin Farrell, Victoria Smurfit and of course, Panty Bliss supporting us so it’s really taken off”.
Patrick feels that apathy amongst young people won’t be an issue for the upcoming referendum.
“Apathy is a big problem but this is such a social issue. Whether you’re politically engaged or not this is something that’s relevant to you and everybody knows someone who is LGBT. Whether it’s a friend, a person in their family or neighbour – everybody knows somebody and for that reason this referendum is different.
“It’s a huge social issue and can have a really positive impact on Irish society.”
Image: Deirdre O’Sullivan