Irish heed their 'appointment with history'

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AMID fears of an embarrassingly low turnout in the Irish Republic's referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, Dublin ministers decided to give voters a telling off in advance, writes Alan Murdoch in Dublin.

Waving her schoolma'am's finger, the Tanaiste, or deputy premier, Mary Harney, had said before polling began, "right around the world people will be mystified" if it was a poor showing. The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had spoken of voters having "an appointment with history."

However, early reports confirmed a well above normal turnout for a referendum. "Yes" campaign managers suggested a 60 per cent-plus turnout was possible. The result in the Republic will not be available until early this evening.