Imagine Equality

Newstalk marks the anniversary of the marriage equality referendum with a new radio documentary

Imagine Equality

Photo by William Murphy

Two years after the landmark marriage referendum, we look back on the campaign for marriage equality—and the impact it had.

“This campaign was about our lives”

―Gráinne Healy, chairwoman of Marriage Equality Ireland and co-director of the Yes Equality campaign

On the 22nd of May 2015, Ireland voted to extend civil marriage equality to same-sex couples in Ireland. In the months leading up to the referendum, Ireland saw mobilisation and activism like never before—where people initiated conversations with their friends, family and co-workers; took to social media; hit the streets and went door to door to campaign for marriage equality. It was a national movement to finally recognise same sex unions, and the LGBT community itself, as equal to their heterosexual counterparts in the eyes of the law.

In order to make a contribution to the discussion around equality, Shaun O’Boyle and Maurice Kelliher produced a series of pop-up podcasts. These podcasts were intended to be shared across social media; and in each episode they asked a different well-known person—including, Senator David Norris, Senator Ivana Bacik, author Colm Tóibín, journalist Una Mullally, and broadcaster and academic Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin—why they were voting Yes for marriage equality. Listening back to those podcasts now ( reminds us of the sense of urgency in the lead up to that campaign - the social justice that was at stake, and the complex mix of hope, anger, fear, and excitement about the outcome.

As part of this documentary we speak to some of those podcast contributors, two years on. We hear reflections on the referendum, the campaigns, the effects of homophobia and heteronormativity on the LGBT community, the impact of inequality, voting day, and the introduction of marriage equality. This programme also asks how much life in Ireland has changed post-referendum—and we examine all of these ideas with (in order of appearance): GCN Editor Brian Finnegan; presenter and educator Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin; Senator David Norris; Senator Ivana Bacik; Oein De Bhairduin, founder of LGBT traveller peer support group LGBT Pavee; the chairwoman of Marriage Equality Ireland and ‘Yes Equality’ co-director Gráinne Healy; and psychotherapist Anne Marie Toole and broadcaster Dil Wickremasinghe.


‘Imagine Equality’ was broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday May 20th 2017 at 10pm, with repeat broadcast on Sunday 21st May at 8am.

Information and support for the issues raised in this programme can be found at:

National LGBT helpline (01 685 9280 /


BROADCAST TIMES: ‘Imagine Equality’ was broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday May 20th 2017 at 10pm, with repeat broadcast on Sunday 21st May at 8am.

LISTEN LIVE: ‘Imagine Equality’ can also be listened to online at:

PODCAST: Podcast available at: after the broadcast.

CREDITS: ‘Imagine Equality’ was produced, recorded, and edited by Maurice Kelliher and Shaun O’Boyle - and was supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, through the television licence fee. Photo by William Murphy

ABOUT THE PRODUCERS: Artist Maurice Kelliher and science communicator Shaun O’Boyle have been commissioned to produce audio for: BBC Radio 4, Irish Design 2015, Science Gallery Dublin, Documentary on Newstalk, Festival of Curiosity, LGBT History Month UK, Science Gallery International, and BBC World Service. They have been supported by: Broadcasting Authority of Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; and the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund.