Martin facing problems according to exit poll on Eighth Amendment

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin is facing a fresh political crisis after it emerged just over half of his party's supporters rejected his call to repeal the Eighth Amendment, writes political correspondent Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

In recent months, Mr Martin has staunchly supported a yes vote poll, saying it is vital the country - and his own party - supports both a yes vote and 12 weeks unrestricted abortion access legislation.

However, he has faced significant internal party criticism, with just over half of his parliamentary party of TDs and senators publicly saying they will vote no in a clear challenge to his position.

The split has been reflected in exit polls on the abortion referendum votes, which show that while Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Labour, Green and smaller parties all voted in their droves for a yes vote, Fianna Fáil and Renua were the only two parties whose supporters opposed the move.

And while Fianna Fáil's vote breakdown was a marginal victory for no, the split means Mr Martin is facing another uphill battle to convince his own supporters to follow his progressive social voice.

The RTE exit poll breakdown shows:

  • Among party voters 74.9% of Fine Gael supporters backed yes; 74.5% of Sinn Féin; 80.3% of Labour; 88.9% of Green; and 82.1% of Solidarity-People Before Profit voted yes.
  • However, 50.3% of Fianna Fáil supporters backed a no vote and 49.7% said yes, while Renua supporters surveyed all rejected any suggestion of changing the eighth amendment.
  • Speaking on a special edition of Morning Ireland on RTE Radio 1, Fianna Fáil business spokesperson and former Oireachtas cross-party committee on the future of the eighth amendment member Billy Kelleher said the "hypocrisy in the heart of the constitution" is now over.

    He said yesterday's vote was a "catharsis" for women in Ireland, and said "I assume the vast majority [of Fianna Fáil members] would adhere to the views of Irish people".

    "Their profound views should not be forced on people," Mr Kelleher said.

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