#8thRef: Voting closes;

  • Polls are open until 10pm tonight
  • There are 6,500 polling stations around the country
  • More than three million people are eligible to vote
  • The first exit poll broadcast on the The Late Late Show at approximately 11pm

Update 10pm: Voting is over in Ireland’s referendum on abortion.

Polls closed at 10pm amid reports of strong turnout in many parts of the country, particularly in urban areas.

Earlier Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a proponent of liberalising Ireland’s strict abortion regime, predicted a high turnout would be good for those campaigning for change.

Thousands of Irish citizens living overseas have travelled home in droves to exercise their democratic right on the emotive issue.

Polls for the historic vote opened across the country at 7am, with citizens effectively opting to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the state’s constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother’s life is in danger.

Counting will begin in the morning, with the result expected later that day.

Update 9.30pm: Some turnout predictions as high as 70%

We are into the final hour of voting in the abortion referendum.

Voting has been brisk across the day, although the rush has now eased.

Many areas have reported higher than usual turnout overall, with some eclipsing the figures seen during the marriage referendum which reached 60% in 2015.

Some turnout predictions are as high as 70% in urban areas in Wicklow, 60% in Athlone and parts of Kildare, and 68.2 percent in Kill.

Mary Dyer casting her vote at abortion referendum with her husband Sean Cannon after their wedding ceremony in Loughrea, Co. Galway. Photograph: Hany Marzouk

There is also reports of a higher than usual turnout among young people and those on the supplementary register.

The results of a number of exit polls are expected to be announced tonight.

An Ipsos/MRBI poll was being conducted for the Irish Times among 4,000 people at 160 polling stations across the country, from 7am this morning.

While RTÉ plans to announce the result of a Behaviour & Attitudes exit poll of 3,000 voters across the country - on tonight's Late Late Show.

Polling booths close at 10pm.

The counting of votes is scheduled to begin at 9am tomorrow morning.

Niamh Gavin with her daughter Fiadh as she casts her vote in the Irish referendum on liberalising abortion law, at St Paul's National school in Athlone, Ireland on May 25, 2018. Photo: PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Update 8.20pm: Votes continue to be cast amid reports of strong turnout

Votes continue to be cast in abortion referendum amid reports of strong turnout numbers in many parts of the country.

Polls close at 10pm, with 6,500 voting centres across the state likely to witness the traditional evening surge in people arriving to vote after work.

Earlier, the President and political leaders cast their ballots in the referendum on abortion laws.

Thousands of Irish citizens living overseas have travelled home in droves to exercise their democratic right on the issue.

Polls for the historic vote opened across the country at 7am, with citizens effectively opting to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother’s life is in danger.

Counting will begin in morning, with the result expected later that day.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes at the polling station in St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes in Dublin on Friday morning. Around two hours later Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a vocal advocate for repeal, voted in the city.

“I always get a little buzz from voting, it just feels like it is democracy in action,” Mr Varadkar said after emerging from the polling station at Castleknock.

“Not taking anything for granted of course, but quietly confident – there’s been good turnout across the country so far and hoping for a Yes vote tomorrow.

“Obviously, I would be encouraging everyone to come out and vote, a high turnout would be to the advantage of the yes campaign.”

He urged voters not to be distracted by the sunny weather and exercise their democratic right.

Leader of the main opposition party, Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin, voted to repeal in his constituency in Cork while Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald also cast a Yes vote in Dublin.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald presents her identity documents at St Joseph’s School, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

However, her Sinn Fein party colleague and vocal anti-abortion campaigner Peadar Toibin called on Irish people to vote No to “abortion on demand”.

“The irony that the referendum on abortion is being held on International Missing Children’s Day will not be lost on many Irish people,” he tweeted.

“Those on the margins of society suffer most from abortion. Vote No to Abortion on Demand.”

A total of 3.3 million citizens are registered to vote, with 6,500 polling stations open across the country.

Marie O’Donnell casts her vote at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal Polling Station, Lifford, Co Donegal (Liam McBurney/PA)

Opinion polls have been tight, with most showing the Yes side in the lead.

The indication is that rural voters are more likely to say No than their urban counterparts, while a significant number of “don’t knows” have cast a degree of uncertainty over the outcome.

Around 2,000 voters in 12 islands off the mainland were eligible to vote on Thursday to prevent any delay in counting their ballot papers.

Garda Alan Gallagher and Presiding Officer Carmel McBride carry a polling box, used a day early by the few people that live off the coast of Donegal on the island of Inishbofin to vote in the referendum (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA)

- Press Association

Update 5pm: Just hours left to vote; Turnout expected to be higher than marriage referendum

There is just a few hours left for people to cast their votes in the abortion referendum.

An early rush of voters across the country before work saw a much larger than normal turnout in many parts of the country.

In Dublin and the commuter belt counties, many polling stations have hit 30% turnout, with Belmont Avenue in Donnybrook hitting 47% turnout before 3pm.

One box at St John of Gods in Waterford has also hit 47% turnout.

Leah Farrell/ RollingNews.ie

Largely, the number of voters has slowed down ahead of the anticipated evening rush as people get off work.

Earlier, Donegal Town reported a 32% turnout.

Counties like Laois, Westmeath and Offaly in the Midlands are consistently showing between 24 and 26%.

The number of people who were added to the supplementary register and have voted is higher than the general trend.

There is just a few hours now left until the 10pm deadline and many in polling stations across the country think turnout will be higher than the marriage referendum.

The results of an exit poll will be announced on RTÉ's Late Late Show and on the RTÉ News website tonight.

Three thousand people across the country will be interviewed immediately after they have voted.

The exit poll is being conducted by RTÉ in conjunction with a number of Irish universities, and will be carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes.

The overall Yes/No exit poll outcome will be announced tonight, with further results and demographic breakdowns to be released at 8am tomorrow.

Update 4pm: Stena Line delays ferry for Irish heading home to vote

Irish people who were fearing they would miss catching a ferry home to vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum have made their sailing.

People took to social media to plead with Stena Line to hold the 1.10pm Fishguard to Rosslare ferry because of problems with rail services in England and Wales.

Stena Line promised to hold the service for as long as it could in order for passengers to catch the sailing back to Ireland to vote in Friday's referendum.

Great Western Railway organised a coach transfer to get the Irish citizens to the terminal in time from Swansea.

"There were delays in rail connections and coaches were laid on as a substitute. The coaches arrived on time and everybody is there now," a spokesman for Stena Line said.

"The sailing was 1.10pm and we expected the ferry to leave five or 10 minutes behind schedule, which we expect to be made up during the journey.

"I think there was more concern about missing the sailing and not being able to get across.

"The coaches did their job and got everybody there on time and they are being loaded and then will be away."

Elsewhere, Labour party leader Brendan Howlin has voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The Wexford TD tweeted: "Today as #IVotedYes I thought of the 18,000 and more women who have travelled to the UK for abortions since 2012 especially the 429 who gave Wexford addresses. The 8th Amendment was wrong in 1983 and is wrong now."

Update 1.50pm: Calls to open Dublin Castle for results tomorrow

Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan, has called on the OPW to have the grounds of Dublin Castle open to the public on results day, tomorrow.

The Labour Party representative for Dublin South Central said: “I have written to Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran calling on him to open up Dublin Castle on Saturday to allow all those who have given so much to this campaign to congregate.

"Access should be open to the Upper Yard of Dublin Castle, and the results of the referendum as they come in should be shown on a large screen, as it was three years ago for the marriage equality results day.

“Regardless of the result, people who have contributed so much to this referendum campaign, whether they are seasoned campaigners, or new activists, should be allowed to come together at the official announcement as they did for marriage equality.

“This has been a long campaign, thirty-five years in the making. It has ignited a new sense of activism among young people in our country. I think it is appropriate for Dublin Castle to be open to as many that want to attend, rather than just the select few who were randomly allocated tickets and accredited media.”

Nicola Faherty with Freya Molloy (4months) from Greystones casting vote at Delgany National School, Co Wicklow. Pic: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Meanwhile, campaigners calling for a No vote have said they believe the outcome of the referendum is too close to call.

Save the 8th campaign chairwoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said they were encouraged by the high turnout being reported this morning.

She said more than 4,000 volunteers were helping voters get to and from the polls on Friday.

"The Irish people are very clear about what they are voting on today - this is abortion on demand," Ms Ui Bhriain claimed.

"There is a growing and quiet confidence that all the work done by our campaign, and the other campaigns on the No side, will pay dividend this evening."

A number of politicians advocating for a No vote have cast their ballot.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, Fianna Fail Waterford TD Mary Butler, Galway East Independent TD Sean Canney and Sinn Fein's Peadar Toibin headed to their local polling stations on Friday to vote.

Earlier: Dublin centres reportedly busier than during marriage equality referendum

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

Polling stations around the country are experiencing brisk turnout as the nation votes on the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment.

Voter turnout across Cork was at 16.2% at noon, this compared to 13.3% at the same time for the General Election in 2016, which is unusual for a referendum.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald TD casting her vote. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins

In one Dublin polling station turnout had reached 24% by noon.

President Michael D Higgins along with his wife Sabina voted this morning and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and other party leaders have been casting their ballots in centres across the country.

Ballots will be cast at more than 6,500 stations with polls open until 10pm tonight.

At midday, returning officers had recorded 17% turnout in Cork East and 16% in both Cork North-West and Cork South-West, which were all all higher than they were at the same time in the last General Election.

In Dublin voter turnout had already hit 24% in Glasnevin by 12pm, 22% of those eligible to vote had cast ballots in nearby Cabra, while in Ranelagh a 20% turnout was recorded.

Other stations are reporting brisk turnout and it is expected that in excess of 60% of those eligible could come out to vote if these trends continue.

Voters are being advised to bring their polling card along with identification such as a driver's license or passport. Those without a polling card should bring identification and also proof of address.

Update 1.15pm: Polling stations across the country are reporting higher voter turnout than normal in the abortion referendum.

It is ahead of an expected voter rush over lunchtime.

Voter numbers across the country look high with a number of areas already reporting 20% turnout.

Pictured is a nun arriving at the polling station in Ballsbridge College, Dublin. Pic: Leah Farrell/ RollingNews.ie

In Dublin many centres have said they're busier than they were during the marriage referendum.

The Taoiseach's polling station in Castleknock had hit 14 per cent turnout just after 10am.

Some stations in Limerick City are reporting 25 per cent turnout already, with queues outside some polling centres at 7am this morning.

Galway was brisker than usual in the morning, which Cork overall had a quiet start but numbers have picked up.

In Waterford City turnout is also high.

In more rural counties Tipperary has seen a high of 20 per cent turnout in Carrick on Suir and a low of 10 per cent in Roscrea.

Roscommon and Leitrim are reporting high turnouts ahead of lunchtime.

Edgesworthstown in Co Longford saw a groom and his groomsmen arrive to vote early this morning before the wedding.

Many areas are reporting voting levels higher than the marriage referendum, saying they think the good weather is helping.

Minister for Arts Heritage and an Gaelteacht Josepha Madigan T.D. with her husband Finbarr Hayes and their dog Poppy

Earlier: Turnout across the country described as 'brisk'

As with many parts of the country, voter turnout in Waterford City and County appears to be high at the moment.

St Saviours, Ballybeg staff say it is one of the busiest voting days they have ever had, with far more young people voting today than in previous votes.

In Ballygunnar in Waterford City turnout is twice as high as it would be normally before midday.

Rachel Kiely is the Presiding Officer at Booth number one in Ballygunner in St. Mary's National School.

"We've had a very busy morning to be completely honest with you,

"We probably have about 13% of voters in at this time. This time usually we would probably have about 6% so it's quite high.

"We have seen quite a number of young voters out, obviously we have a usual voters that always come in but looking at folk coming and going we do have a young turnout definitely."

Update 12.30pm

By Anne Lucey, in Killarney, Co Kerry

Early morning voter turn out is stronger than expected in Co. Kerry with polling booths in Killarney and other towns across the county reporting up to 6% by 9am, two hours after polls opened.

The early figures, seeing between 5 and 6%, are being collated by county registrar Padraig Burke from 212 polling booths and are up on the turnout in marriage referendum.

Women in particular seemed to be turning out in numbers early in Killarney, it is being reported.

Throughout Kerry town booths were recording higher turnout than rural.

Further results are being collated at lunchtime.

Over 111,000 people are eligible to vote in Kerry, with over 2,200 registering to vote since February.

Just 85,681 people were eligible to vote in Kerry in 1983 when the county overwhelmingly backed the insertion of the 8th amendment.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar cast his vote at the polling station in Dublin. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Earlier: Turnout around the country so far this morning has been described as "brisk" with people reporting queues at polling stations as people cast their ballot before heading to work and school.

Parts of Dublin were reporting turnouts of between 6% and 8%.

In Cork city and county, it is reported to be slower with turnout by 10am in the low single digits in almost all polling stations.

Local officials said they expected the first surge of the day after morning Masses finished between 10am and 11am.

In Fermoy, one polling station reported a 2% turnout by 10am while in Cork city polling stations in Douglas, Togher, Knocknaheeny and Ballyvolane had turnouts varying between 1.5% and 4%.

Meanwhile, policians have been casting their ballots across the country.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has cast his vote in Dublin.

He took to Twitter to share the moment, writing: "It’s a big YES from me. #Together2Vote #Together4Yes #repealthe8th #VoteYes #8thref"

Speaking after casting his vote, Mr Varadkar said he was not taking anything for granted but that he was "quietly confident" of the referendum passing.

He said there had been a good turnout so far across the country and he hoped that would continue throughout the day.

"A high turnout would be advantageous to the Yes campaign," Mr Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach encouraged everyone to get out and vote.

"The upside of a good sunny day in Ireland is that people come out to vote," he said.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has voted and shared the Taoiseach's tweet.

Fine Gael senator Neale Richmond has posted an image of himself and baby Luke heading to vote Yes in Kilternan, Co Dublin this morning with the hashtag men4yes.

Opposition TD Micheàl Martin has cast his vote in the Cork South Central constituency.

The Fianna Fail leader said he had voted Yes for a more compassionate and more humane response for women in Ireland.

Opposition politician Ruth Coppinger urged everyone to go out and cast their ballot.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall has voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín took to Twitter last night to encourage people to vote no on today's referendum.

He wrote "Cherish all the mother and children of the nation equally and #VoteNo".

Michael Healy Rae filmed a video which was posted to Twitter by LoveBoth.

In the video, the Kerry TD said: "I believe that unborn children have to have a strong voice and somebody who will speak up for them".

Save the 8th spokesman John McGuirk posted on Twitter to thank those who supported their campaign and said: "Now let's go vote, and save lives #8thref".

Health minister Simon Harris has cast his ballot at his local polling station in Co Wicklow.

By Conor Kane and Digital desk

Turnout is reported to be steady if not busier than normal for this time of day in several parts of the country.

This morning, polling stations in Tipperary were seeing a steady stream of voters casting their ballots.

In Cashel turnout was anything between 2.7% and 8.4% depending on the booth at 10am.

Abigail Daly, NO Campaigner Anna Daly, and Joy Cantwell voting at Holy Cross NS, Mahon, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins

In Roscrea it was 7% which is consistent with previous polls; Nenagh 7.6% which officers say is higher than normal for a referendum.

Turnout was 8.5% in Clonmel for the Sisters of Charity school which was also higher than the norm for the time of day, with a lot of young people voting, 9.1 % in St Peter and Paul's school and 9% in the St Mary's school polling station.

The figure was about 3.3 % in Cahir, polling reported to be busy enough early on and then quiet before picking up after the school run.

It was low at 0.1% in parts of Carrick-on-Suir but expected to pick up during the day; and 8% in Thurles which is quite busy for 10am.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes at the polling station in St Mary's Hospial, Pheonix Park, Dublin. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Earlier: President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina have voted in the referendum this morning.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to cast his ballot in the next hour while Micheàl Martin has cast his vote.

Micheàl Martin TD and his wife Mary at the polling station at St. Anthony's Boys NS, Ballinlough, Cork. Pic: Jim Coughlan

These people, casting their ballot this morning, explain why it is so important to vote:

"I suppose, a long time ago some people gave their lives for us to have the right to vote so therefore I think it's important that we do it," said one woman.

"I think it's very important because it's a landmark decision that is going to define the country for the next 20-30 years, for my kids, for their kids.

"People have a responsibility to take action and not be passive."

Earlier: Public encouraged to use their vote

The polls have just opened in the historic abortion referendum.

More than three million people are eligible to vote in the first referendum on the Eighth amendment in 35 years.

A man (name not given) arrives at the polling station in Knock National school, Mayo, as the country goes to the polls to vote in the referendum on the 8th Amendment. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Polling stations around the country are now open and people will be able to vote until 10pm this evening.

You will be asked a Yes/No question in the ballot box.

A Yes vote means repealing the Eighth amendment and allowing the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion.

A No vote would retain the Eighth amendment as it is now.

Mark an X next to your choice.

Do not write anything else on the card as it could be seen as a spoiled vote.

Your voting card will tell you where your polling station is.

If you have not got a voting card, you can still vote as long as you are on the register of electors.

In that case bring your ID to the centre to be allowed to vote.

No videos or photos, including selfies, can be taken in the polling station.

You also should not wear any jumpers, badges or merchandise promoting either side when you go to the station to vote.

Luke Field, Deputy Chairperson and Kathy D'Arcy, Chairperson, Cork Together for YES voting at Sunday's Well NS, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins

Speaking at polling stations this morning, voters encouraged people to get out and use their vote.

"It's so important to use your voice in referendums, you can make such a change in society and this in particular is such an important one," said one woman. "I can't wait. I hope people get out and vote and it's the biggest turnout that we've seen."

Speaking at a polling station in Dublin, another man said: "Personally, I've transferred my vote from down the country.

I think it's really important for everyone to get out, be part of the decision-making process and don't let other people make the decision for you.

The Referendum Commission has called on voters to inform themselves about the issues around the referendum and to use their vote.

Chairperson of the Referendum Commission, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said: “The Referendum Commission does not campaign for a yes or a no vote, but we do strongly urge you to inform yourself and to use your vote.

"How you vote on this issue is entirely a matter for you to decide, but it is important that you take the opportunity to use your vote.”


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