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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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'It's not right for a woman to be criminalised for having a choice to her own body and her own quality of life'

We spoke to 3 men in their early 20s who will be voting yes in the upcoming referendum and found out why.

Source: Marie Carberry

THERE IS A home video of my brother and I that my dad likes to crack out now and again. It’s a video that was taken on one of our holidays to France when we were young. It’s of me and my younger brother Rónan and we’re about 6 and 3 respectively.

In the video, we’re supposed to be performing a talent show but Rónan can’t get a word in edgeways because his big, bossy older sister is talking over him and trying to be the centre of attention. As usual.

Fast forward to 2018 and things haven’t changed much. His big, bossy older sister is still the centre of attention while he sits back and absorbs everything that goes on around him. We could not be any more different as I am constantly anxious and worried while he’s so laid back, he’s practically horizontal.

Source: Marie Carberry/Facebook

Rónan is now 20 and falls into the category of guys who people (including to my great shame, me) say aren’t engaged with the upcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment. He also falls into the category of guys who don’t say much but when they do speak, they know exactly what they want to say. When I asked him what he thought about the upcoming referendum, his reply was short and sweet.

It’s not really my choice. It’s a woman’s choice to her own body so I just feel like I should have no say in it so I’m voting yes as opposed to restricting the choice of someone else’.

Then again my baby brother was always a bit of a nerd. He registered to vote for the local elections for god’s sake. Nobody cares about the local elections but his vote is important to him for a reason that I would never have really guessed.

People died for our right to vote so I want to take advantage of that.’

What I took from that is that Rónan was always going to be politically engaged so I needed to find someone the same age who wasn’t. Rónan’s best friend in school was a guy called Liam. I knew Liam well enough because he and Rónan had been friends for years.

Source: Marie Carberry

Liam knew I had been canvassing his local town of Celbridge for a Yes vote. In fact, last week he had sent me an Instagram post telling me him and his whole family were registering to vote, 3 of them for the first time ever.

Liam is 20, the same age as Rónan and didn’t vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum, which ended up being closer than he thought it would be. Social media played a key aspect in that vote and he wants to make sure people don’t just assume that this one will pass.

There’s an older population that wouldn’t be so in touch with social media so it seems like the yes voters are going to have a clear win but  since we choose what we see on social media we don’t actually know.’

Source: Liam Morgan

Liam’s older brother Leo is 22 and has had a lot of time to think about this vote considering he also didn’t vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum.

I felt with the last one it was a combination of me being lazy and the fact that I just thought it was going to pass anyway. I don’t want to let that slide for this vote because it’s a lot more intense I feel than the last one. It’s not right for a woman to be criminalized for having a choice to her own body and her own quality of life.”

My caption was stolen by @leo_morgan

A post shared by Liam Morgan (@__liammorgan) on

The rhetoric around young lads is that they’re not interested in politics. I for one always just assumed lads like Rónan and Liam wouldn’t care about the 8th Amendment. That’s my fault for making lazy assumptions and I’ve never been more delighted to be proven wrong. Leo sums up how engaged guys might be on issues such as these.

I actually believe it’s completely due to their background and the environment that they’re in.  There’s a huge lad culture among large portions of guys in Ireland and I think that the ones that are more ignorant to the topic, they don’t spend as much time around girls and they’re so enveloped in becoming respectable to their lad peers they feel like they have to act the hard man and not engage in these political topics and actually broaden their minds.’

All of the boys seem cautiously optimistic that this referendum will pass. Rónan as always won’t call it but says it will be ‘close’ while Liam is ‘hopeful’. Leo decides to lay it all out on the line.

I only know one person that is voting no and that was a guy I used to play rugby with because he’s pro life. He seems like an intelligent guy but I just don’t think he’s educated enough on the topic.’

And why does he want it to pass?

The Catholic Church should not have an influence on political laws in the state because the world we live in at the moment is a world based on science and facts. We’re moving away from the religious era where belief is everything. I think we should start turning away from the Catholic Church and religion influencing our politics and laws.’

I’ve been involved in this campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment for the last 5 years or so. I’ve been described as ‘a walking referendum’ for my ability to bring it up in almost any conversation.  My brother and his friends aren’t like me and I’ve never been more grateful for that.

Another one 💃 #XVI

A post shared by Liam Morgan (@__liammorgan) on

Time and again men in their early 20s have been told they’re not engaged or that they don’t care. They are though because the 8th Amendment affects them too. It could affect their mum, their sister, their aunt, their cousin, their girlfriend, their best mate or anyone who has the ability to get pregnant. They know that and that’s why these lads are going to vote yes.

Just because someone doesn’t display their views on social media doesn’t mean they’re not engaged. Sometimes people like me overlook that. They’re usually the people who will step up and do the right thing at the right moment. Rónan, Liam and Leo are three of those people and I’ve never been so grateful to know them.

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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