We may be a small nation of just over four million people, but we know how to party. Tonight there will be many a party around the country, celebrating the huge Yes vote in todays referendum.
It is an historic day and one I am so delighted to be part of. Today we showed the world but more importantly our own brothers, sisters and friends, that we as a nation accept fully anyone who is lesbian or gay. After many years of having to qualify and justify his choice of partner, my own brother can move on and live equal to his sisters and brother.
Today we have given a message to our younger children, we will accept you for who you are. We have given a message to those who are yet to come out, that it is okay to be gay. We have given a message to those who are together, marry if you wish.
Looking back over years past I reminded my own children of how difficult it was for those who were gay to come out in this country. When I was nursing, if you were living in a gay relationship and you became ill, your partner had no rights. They could not visit you as next of kin, unless your lovers family consented, nor were they allowed discuss your care. On occasions they were not allowed to attend the funeral, nor were they ever spoken of, despite being in a long term relationship. I reminded them that up to a number of years ago it was actually illegal to live in a gay relationship, and that many hid their sexuality, marrying and pretending to be someone they were not all their lives.
Thankfully today has ended those days forever. I think in the midst of all the excitment we need to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives due to our nations intolerance, those who emigrated in order to be who they are, and especially to remember those who were brave enough to stick around, and openly live as gay and lesbian individuals, showing family and friends that they are normal and their love is no different to ours.
Finally I would like to mention my own brother and his partner. I have always been proud of Michael for being the amazing person he is, kind, loving, generous, fun and loyal, now my country has spoken telling him they accept him for who he is, regardless of who he has chosen to love, and I can tell you he has chosen wisely.
Enjoy this historic day everyone, it is indeed a day to be proud to be Irish.