A bit of farce never hurt any one… #equalmarriageni campaign gets going

Wednesday 5 September 2012 will go down in the history books as the night that the Equal Marriage NI campaign finally was set into real motion. For tonight—or rather last night as I’m typing this after midnight—the elections to the Committee were held.

As with all election in Northern Ireland there were elements of drama, questions, proposals, and a little bit of farce. But we got there. We have a committee. Let’s all support them as they started creating the strategy to make Equal Marriage in Northern Ireland a reality.

First of all, a big thank you has to go to the Returning Officer, Simon Rea, and his two assistants Gerry Lynch and Pam Tilson. They had over seventy sets of ballot papers to issue and then count. They did sterling work—without them, it couldn’t have been done as easily and efficiently.

Returning Officer’s Assistant, Gerry Lynch hands out the pack on entry.

On entry we all gave our names and in return were given a slip of paper which acted as our ID when we went to collect ballot papers later in the evening. For those reading from outside Northern Ireland, when we vote in public elections we have to show ID to be given our ballot papers – so this felt reasonably normal. Of course it was a simple way of keeping track of who was entitled to vote. There were also some pens available from a local LGBT organisation.

That sorted out, with many of us getting a drink from the bar — a Pepsi in my case. We got down to business.

First off, we had a debate about the usage of RON (Re-open Nomination). I proposed an amendment to the process that was being suggested, but there be no seconder, RON did not become a candidate – merely an option instead of any candidate.

The next proposal was that candidates who were present should be able to answer questions. There was a vote on this and it was overwhelmingly in favour. This vote was carried out by raising our credential slips and counted by two tellers. This passed, and we got going.

Many questions were asked of various candidates but I’m not going to list the answers here. It’s more important that we focus on the future than the past and let the committee gel in its work.

However, some highlights from this evening were:

one election’s ballot papers being both on Red and Green – when they had to be different colours to facilitate separation from the ballot bucket. Additional ballot papers for those with Red papers had to be printed… so the candidate in another election dashed off to Belfast’s LGBT Centre to do so.

Two colours of ballot paper? that’s gotta be confusing… Pobody’s nerfect!

To assist the RO and the ROAs we voted in no more than three elections at once. This assisted with the sorting and counting of the votes. When counted, we got on to the results which were announced by Simon Rea.


Candidate Votes
John O’Doherty 70 Elected

There were 4 votes cast for RON.

Vice Chairman

Candidate Votes Total votes = 73 Quota = 25
Stage 1 Stage 2
Mark Brown 20 25.44 Elected
Malachai O’Hara 36 -11 = 25 Elected
Rachael Wallace 17 20.44

This was announced earlier with the same result but with a different way of working. The correction was made by Nigel Macauley and the Returning Officer’s assistants were gracious to accept the correction being made. The simple error was that originally the quota had been stated to be 37 not 25 as it should have been.


Candidate Votes Total votes = 74 Quota = 38
Stephen Donnan 27
Dee Gardner 0
Nicholas Young 47 Elected


Candidate Votes Total votes = 73 Quota = 37
Gavin Boyd 42 Elected
Matt Leebody 31


Candidate Votes
Cara McCann 70 Elected

There were 3 votes cast for RON.


Candidate Votes
Matthew McDermott 73 Elected

There was 1 vote cast for RON.

Faith Representative

Candidate Votes Total votes = 73 Quota = 37
Andrew McFarland Campbell 12
Pádraig Ó Tuama 54 Elected

There were 2 votes cast for RON.


Candidate Votes Total votes = 71 Quota = 24
Koldo Huidobro 3
Ciaran Moynagh LLB, MSSc, CPLS Soc 39 Elected
Adam Murray 29 Elected

I want to say thank you to everyone who stood. I’m sure that those not elected will still support the campaign. In fact I’m not just sure, I’m positive that they will. Most of them said so this evening.

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