Sleeveless, the ink on our arms projecting a range of messages, political and personal, we sauntered toward the polling station. There was an evening sun which on our return seemed to be symbolically setting on Catholic Ireland. Eire Nua was rising at the intersection where the sun was going down, an Ireland no longer willing to impose the essentially religious diktat that the foetus from the moment of conception, in terms of rights, was on a par with the mother.
For my wife and myself, casting a vote in this referendum was important. Like the images on our arms, it is not just a political act but a personal one. Our daughter is 17 and dating. The notion that, were the situation ever to arise, she should have to take the Liverpool boat is anathema to us: for no reason apart from others like the Iona Institute choosing for themselves that she would have no choice - that she should be the victim of their coercion, persuasion having no role to play. While we were not to know it with certainty at the time of placing our Yes vote in the ballot box, from those very same boxes, a deluge would erupt to sweep away the haughtiness of No.
If we had any lingering doubts the exit polls soon caused them to dissipate. The opinion polls were confounded but this time not as a result of the largely racist and reactionary tidal wave that brought Trump and Brexit over the line. As Miriam Lord put it:
Yes, Yes, Yes. A resounding, emphatic Yes. And what a way to say it – the only way to say it: with conviction and clarity. This massive vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution leaves no doubt. The Irish people have taken ownership of their abortion issue. They have taken it out of the hands of unrepresentative lobby groups and celibate clerics and decided how they want to approach it.
The Yes camp has won and won decisively. Young Ireland has sent old Ireland on a boat, not to Liverpool but to Port Irrelevant. The practitioners of Priestcraft, who once upon a time inflicted with arrogant impunity their superstitions on everybody, regardless of creed, were told they could continue to practice but only on themselves.
In recent days while not over confident, I was hard pressed to find from where a serious challenge to Repeal could emerge. Sporting my Yes badge in work and having brought a Ziplock bag of them in for anybody who wanted them, I soon had no bag and plenty of endorsements. I remained faithful to my own rule of thumb: when in doubt, look at where the bishops are lined up. They are always on the wrong side of the line, the wrong side of history. Behind all socially conservative initiatives for aeons, they have, since 1986 been knocked out in every gladiatorial contest by the very society they sought to lord it over. Neither threats of hell nor excommunication could carry the day.
As a young republican I grew familiar with the five isms of republicanism: nationalism, socialism, separatism, non-sectarianism and secularism. These days as an old republican, there is much solace to be drawn from the unmitigated success of one of them - secularism.
Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill.