“This is like a book I read once by Nabokov,” said Fine Gael Senator Jim D’Arcy at the count at the Redeemer Centre in Dundalk on Saturday morning, as the boxes were opened and the fate of our senators was about to be revealed.
“It was called Invitation to a Beheading and it was about this guy who was invited to a beheading which turned out to be his own.”
Along with The Defense, The Gift, Speak Memory, Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada, Invitation is one of Nabokov’s masterpieces.
It is a story about a man living in a state which denies individual’s right to have an imagination.
Senator D’Arcy had been invited to his own execution by his own party leader and was quite willing to go, but he seemed to know that the people were not just ready to have an arm of democracy - even if it’s not the head - cut off.
As more and more boxes were opened, it was clear that this was going to go right down to the wire.
There were few experienced tallymen and women about, but it was becoming quite clear that the No vote was strongest in the larger urban areas of Dundalk and Drogheda where Sinn Fein would normally do well in a local or general election.
But this was not an election. It was a referendum.
The tally was the same as reports from Dublin. The No vote was ahead, though not quite as strongly as in the capital.
It was looking like 52 per cent No. And 48 per cent Yes.
It finished up at 52.3 per cent No, 47.7 per cent Yes.
That’s 20,067 votes for No. 18,278 Yes votes.
The electorate was 102,088.
The total poll was 38,738. Turnout 37.9 per cent.
Spoiled votes 393 including one that said: “No to a drunk Dail”.
The total valid poll was 38,345.
Senator Mary Moran said she had detected a strong No vote emerging in the final few days before the referendum.
“People were texting me and saying they could see what I was trying to do,” the Labour Party senator said. “There was a real indication that the tide was starting to turn.
There was once an old saying in Irish Politics:
“As Louth goes, so goes the country.”
And once again this proved to be true.
By lunchtime it looked like the Nos could be shading it.
“It’s going to be lost,” someone cried.
But there was very little crying. Except that Sinn Fein are probably not too pleased that they ended up on the right side of the Government and the wrong side of the people.
This was a day for the people.
As Daniel Day Lewis or old Abe Lincoln said:
“You can fool some of them all of the time, all of them some of the time, but you’ll never get all of the all of the time.”
So now it’s back to the drawing board and once again the politicians have proved that they are out of touch with their bosses.
Perhaps it’’s because they think they are the bosses.