Irish abortion referendum result: Yes defeats pro-life campaign with double number of votes, official count reveals

Repeal campaign wins 66.4 per cent of ballots

Jon Sharman
Saturday 26 May 2018 19:16
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Irish abortion referendum: The moment it was announced Ireland voted 66% in favour of repealing the eighth amendment

Ireland has voted to repeal the eighth amendment – effectively ending its longstanding ban on abortion – by a margin of two to one, official results have confirmed.

The Yes campaign won with more than 1.4 million votes, it has now been announced.

Returning officer Barry Ryan said the repeal effort had triumphed with a majority of 706,349. The final tally was 1,429,981 Yes votes to 723,632 No votes.

Donegal was the only constituency to vote No overall, with 51.87 per cent of people there saying they wanted to retain the eight amendment.

The result opens the door for the Irish government to introduce legislation allowing abortions and ministers have promised to do so by the end of the year.

Before it was announced, prime minister Leo Varadkar had hailed the expected result as a “quiet revolution”.

For more than three decades women requiring a termination have been forced to travel abroad, or to carry their pregnancies to term, including in cases where it was believed their foetuses would not survive after birth.

Celebrations in Dublin were already underway with chants of “we made history” heard in the city centre.

As the final result was announced, the crowd at Dublin Castle began chanting "Savita, Savita", a reference to Savita Hallappanavar, who tragically died in 2012 after doctors refused a termination.

Eighty-one-year-old campaigner Frank Crummey was marking the occasion with his wife Evelyn and their children and grandchildren.

He said: "It means everything to me, because while I knew this day would come I honestly didn't think it would come in my lifetime, and now that it has I'm just elated.

"I've been campaigning for women's rights all my life and this is another step in the emancipation of women.

"This is obviously my last campaign, my last crack, and I can die happy now."

His daughter, Liz Crummey, 56, said: "I'm here for all of the women in my life and in my family because this is just such a ground-breaking moment for Irish women.

"I was here in 1983 when the Eighth Amendment was put into the constitution and it's been a shocking time to live through."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the referendum result marked "the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light".

It was "the day we came of age as a country" and "the day we took our place among the nations of the world", he added.

He said: "When we went to the polls yesterday, many people voted yes with enthusiasm and pride, but also many others voted yes in sorrowful acceptance, with heavy hearts.

"The X marked on the ballot paper represented much more than an individual vote.

"In 1983, 841,000 people voted to insert the eighth amendment into our constitution. In 2018, 1.4 million voted to remove it.

"We are not a divided country, the result is resounding and it gives us as a government the mandate that we need now to bring forward the legislation as soon as possible and to secure its passage."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP welcomed the result as "great news".

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also tweeted her congratulations: "Compassion, justice and trust in women win the day.

"Joyful moment - but also one to remember the heartbreak for many along the way."

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, speaking from Dublin Castle, said it was "a momentous day for all the people of Ireland".

"Ireland is changing. The old certainties being challenged, and a new and better Ireland is emerging," she said.

"It is a day when those who had been silenced demanded to be heard. A day when we decisively broke from the past, a day when the people said: 'This is our time, this is our Ireland."'

Together for Yes co-founder Ailbhe Smyth said she is "so proud'' of the people of Ireland.

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