There was strong online reaction to the news that the constituency of Roscommon/South Leitrim was the only one of 43 constituencies to vote against last weekend’s marriage referendum. With 51.4 percent of the electorate choosing to vote against the change to Article 41 of the Constitution, the area came under fire from those on social media and in particular the Twitterati.
Making the headlines over the weekend in particular was author Marian Keyes who tweeted “Tip?! I’ll give you a tip! Move to Roscommon/South Leitrim and pal around with your own kind #ofHatefilledBigots.” Ms Keyes uploaded her tweet at 9.20pm on Saturday night last but deleted the comment soon after before apologising. On Saturday afternoon she tweeted: “I’m so sorry for my tweet about Roscommon. I’m deeply ashamed of myself and I’m so sorry for the distress I’ve caused (to Yes and No voters)”. She also apologised to both Boyle native and Hollywood actor Chris O’Dowd and Roscommon/South Leitrim MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. Mr Flanagan also took to Twitter to defend his constituency, condemning those who had tweeted unnecessary comments about the region. “To those on the Yes side putting the boot in on Roscommon. You are successfully pissing off thousands from the county who voted Yes. Not nice.”
RTÉ 2FM presenter and Drumshanbo native Paddy McKenna posted a piece to his tumblr account in which he also defended the region’s decision. In an article entitled “In defence of Roscommon/South Leitrim”, McKenna reminded those reading that the No vote had won out by the slenderest of margins (51.4%).
He also asked those who were vilifying the constituency to consider the feelings of a population who had been “screwed over by government on issues like healthcare access, job creation and clean drinking water.” He noted: “These are not people who deserve that treatment. These are people who are mostly used to being forgotten about and not noticed.”
McKenna said that having canvassed voters’ opinions in the Roscommon/South Leitrim area in the run up to last Friday’s referendum, he noticed a disconnect with the Yes campaign which was something he said he had not encountered in Dublin, where he lives. He said: “Many rural people felt talked down to and alienated. They felt shouted at. They got left behind by the Yes campaign which is worth reflecting on.”