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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 27 June, 2019
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Here's how half-a-million Yes badges became the referendum's most coveted symbol

The little badge that could.

ruth1 Source: Ruth Medjber - Ruthless Imagery

I knocked on an old lady’s door in Portobello and she was a Yes. I moved on a couple of streets and she came after me looking for some badges.
I’ve given 100+ off my lapel alone. Ran down the street with the one on my jacket after a lady one night.

SO GOES THE experience of Yes Equality canvasser Victoria Curtis in recent weeks, and so many more like her.

The hundreds of thousands of Yes Equality badges distributed around the country and beyond have become a small, powerful and highly coveted symbol of support for a Yes vote in the forthcoming marriage referendum.

ruth2 Source: Ruth Medjber - Ruthless Imagery

According to the Yes Equality campaign half a million badges have been produced since distribution began last November.

They were initially part of the Register to Vote campaign in the run up to last November’s deadline.

Walter Jayawardene, spokeseperson for Yes Equality told DailyEdge.ie:

When we started with the badges we thought they were a neat little thing for people to pick up at events. Now the badge has become a constant on the campaign trail.

‘There are smiles and thumbs up exchanged when you’re wearing a badge’

Many tell of a knowing smile or nod of support or kind word when a badge is spotted on a lapel or jumper.

Tweet by @Daragh Source: Daragh/Twitter

Tweet by @Paul O'Keeffe Source: Paul O'Keeffe/Twitter

Kate Coleman of Le Cool Dublin has been out on the canvas and told DailyEdge.ie that people “have a load in their pockets and they dole them out”.

A lot of people ask for them too, which is good. I saw a group on a pub crawl in town all wearing Yes Equalitytshirts and I thought maybe they had just come off the canvas, but they said no, they were just showing support. It’s a nice feeling.

According to Victoria Curtis “they’re a huge talking point”:

tamain

Tweet by @Æ Source: Æ/Twitter

“Where can I get one of those”

Of the half-a-million badges produced, 460,000 will have been handed out by 22 May, with a further 40,000 sold online and in places like the Yes Equality pop up shop in St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.

Tweet by @Tiernan Brady Source: Tiernan Brady/Twitter

They’ve become so coveted that campaigners and Yes advocates have been carrying bunches of them about their person, to hand out to those who ask.

Walter Jayawardene said:

I always have a badge on me, and I always have a bunch on me. A barman came up to me the other day and said “good on you”, and asked me for a badge.

They’re not not even safe in the gym:

Tweet by @Tara Flynn Source: Tara Flynn/Twitter

Conversation starters

Jayawardene also told us that his mother-in-law was wearing a Tá badge and sitting down in Connolly Station, when a boy of about 16 sat down beside her and told her he was gay. He told her how happy he was to see an older person show their support.

He got emotional about it, actually.

The badges haven’t been conversation starters for overhelmingly positive reasons though.

Yesterday Mary Lou McDonald was asked to remove a TÁ badge she was wearing while in the Dáil chamber, due to a “longstanding protocol around emblems of a party political nature in the precincts of Leinster House”.

Last weekend Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin was asked to remove not a badge, but a pin from his lapel while appearing on RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show.

aodh Source: @AodhanORiordain

‘Why I’m wearing a badge’

Canvasser Ben Allen told DailyEdge.ie that he hadn’t really even though about getting involved until a campaigner  friend “plastered me me with a badge” after knocking on doors and coming up against some “pretty awful experiences”.

He convinced me, without much effort, of the importance that having a straight male voice might have upon undecided or unsure voters. I wouldn’t be pushing my own agenda, so why would I be canvassing, why would I be wearing a badge in support of a yes?

I went out canvassing for the first time last night, and was surprised by both the amount of No voters (about 65-35 in favour of yes) and the Yes voters who concluded that ‘ah sure it’s going to pass anyway’. It really isn’t that clear cut. So I will be wearing my badge and opening the discussion as much as possible in the coming days to hammer home the importance of actually voting.

cork1 Of course the People's Republic has its own badge Source: Facebook

Read: Here’s why #Pingate was trending in Ireland>

This rainbow taxi for a Yes vote has been spotted on the streets of Dublin

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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