GCN's Mar Ref - 5 Years On brought the community together online to celebrate the anniversary of marriage equality

Campaigners, performers and the community came together and shared their own memories of that incredible day in May.

A woman with long hair sits in the offices of a magazine

On Saturday, GCN live streamed Mar Ref – 5 Years On – a special online event to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Marriage Equality referendum, and the LGBTQ+ community joined us in celebration.

While we couldn’t gather in person, a very special broadcast on YouTube and Facebook meant we could still mark that marvellous day and unite even while apart.

The amazing Una Mullally hosted with aplomb, interviewing people at the forefront of the battle to achieve our equal rights, while special musical guests performed songs which spoke to those times and the years that followed.

Throughout, messages from the community that they had shared on social media with the hashtag #marrefmemories were broadcast, alongside highly emotional video clips captured at the time.

Una was joined by activists such as Ailbhe Smyth, the Founding Member of Marriage Equality, Grainne Healy, the Co-Director of Yes Equality Campaign, Rory O’Neill AKA Panti Bliss – the Queen of Ireland herself, Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland and Declan Meehan, the Co-Director of the Love Equality campaign.


Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, whose court case to have her marriage to her wife, Ann Louise Gilligan, recognised by the Irish state is noted as an early spark that lit the fire, joined us. She paid tribute to her beloved Ann Louise and to their journey together. Sinead McSweeney and her son Seamus recorded a very special message remembering their husband and dad, Noel Whelan, who was instrumental in the campaign.


Also shared during the online broadcast were Mar Ref Memories video messages from Tonie Walsh, activist and co-founder of GCN, Olivia Mc Evoy, the former Chair of the National LGBT Federation, and the GALAS Person of the Year – Evgeny Shtorn.

The words of Moninne Griffith – Director of Marriage Equality, Laura Harmon and USI, Anna MacCarthy Adams – Member of LGBT+ Noise, and Yes Campaigners Philippa and Helen Ryder really brought home how far we had come as a community.


There were also special video messages from some wonderful folk including RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan, comedian and actor Aisling Bea, a conversation with Actor Andrew Scott and director John Butler, DJ Annie Mac, and presenter James Kavanagh.

Irish drag legends Dizzy and Paul Ryder also dropped by to share their own memories.

The event didn’t skimp on musical performances either, with appearances from Conor O’Brien of The Villagers, Wallis Bird, Lesley Roy, Soak, and the dynamic duo Veda and Lady K.


Mar Ref – 5 Years On was also organised as a fundraiser for GCN as our fundraising streams have been decimated by the pandemic. The event is still available to view on YouTube and you can check out the community’s #marrefmemories across social media. GCN is a registered charity, if you would like to support your national LGBT+ press, please see below for details.

You can support us by texting GCN to 50300 to donate €4 or by visiting our support page here. Text costs €4. GCN will receive a minimum of €3.25 per text. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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