Yes-side: 'This result is bigger than Ireland...The world is watching'

The referendum to appeal the 8th Amendment has been passed, by a margin of more than 700,000 votes. The result was 66.4% Yes and 33.6% No.

Update:ARC 'overjoyed' with result

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) has said it is "overjoyed" with today's result.

ARC spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said: "We couldn’t have asked for a more definitive mandate for access to abortion care at home in Ireland.”

She added: “This result is bigger than Ireland: we know the world watches us as abortion access is being eroded in other places. Ireland now has the opportunity to be a beacon to the world in terms of respect for people who can get pregnant.”

Update: 'Legislators must now act quickly'

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik says the people have spoken, and the country's legislators now have a duty to act - and act quickly.

She said: "It's a long time coming. This is very emotional day for all of us who have been involved over many years.

"It's quite overwhelming to see this incredible support here for repealing the 8th Amendment.

"The incredible turn-out and the high proportion of people who voted Yes today...None of us expected such a resounding success for the Yes campaign.

"It shows I think the extent to which Ireland has changed as a society and it shows that we have become a more equal, more compassionate and more caring society."

Update: Comedian Tara Flynn was at the heart of the Together for Yes campaign.

She said it has been an emotional few weeks in the run-up to the referendum.

She said: "So there's a moment of relief and release today.

"It's just so good to know that reality is being faced now and we're welcoming people home."

Update 5pm: Savita's family have 'no words' after Yes vote

Savita Halappanavar's father has said he has "no words" to express his gratitude for today's Yes vote.

Andanappa Yalagi told the Hindustan Times today that he was "very happy" to hear of the emphatic trend towards an overall Yes vote.

"I am very happy today," Mr Yalagi said. "We’ve got justice for Savita. What happened to her will not happen to any other family. I have no words to express my gratitude to the people of Ireland at this historic moment."

Update: Catherine McGuinness 'surprised' by margin of Yes win

Retired Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness, who campaigned against the 8th amendment in 1983 says she is not surprised that the Yes vote pulled ahead - but she is surprised by how much.

She said: "I didn't think we'd win by this much, I mean this is absolutely amazing."

Minister for Health Simon Harris is greeted by retired Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness on arrival at the count centre in Dublin's RDS. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Update: Resounding Yes vote 'a comprehensive victory for women', say campaigners

Deirdre Flynn from Limerick Together for Yes says the victory is the result of years of hard work.

She said: "We are absolutely delighted.

"The people of Limerick spoke, they told their stories and we listened we trusted them, we believed them and we respected them.

"I think today is a comprehensive victory for the women of Ireland who for 35 years have had to live underneath this law."

Members of Voices for choice during the Abortion referendum count at Dublin Castle. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins

Tim Spalding, campaign manager of Donegal Together For Yes, explains why he feels the referendum was so tightly contested in his county.

He said: "Well we had a formidable force against us, particularly Donegal Pro-Life who are not registered with SIPO and have been placing an enormous amount of advertising right throughout the campaign and since well before it.

"We've asked them to come clean about that, where their funding is coming from, we don't know - you can see the scale of the machine that's here.

"I think that was up against us really, we're a small voluntary group and we're doing it just on small donations we've got here."

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (centre), Minister for Health Simon Harris (second left) and Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan arrive at Dublin Castle for the results of the referendum on the 8th Amendment. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

SIPTU deputy general secretary, Ethel Buckley, said that union members warmly welcome the resounding vote to repeal the 8th Amendment.

She said: “Having called and campaigned for repeal with the ‘Together for Yes’ coalition, SIPTU members warmly welcome the massive turnout for the vote to repeal.

"The result places the issue of women’s health at the forefront of the political agenda."

Update: Resounding Yes vote 'a roar for decency and dignity', say campaigners

Pro-choice campaigners have hailed the Yes vote as a resounding roar for "dignity and decency".

Politicians and supporters of repealing the 8th Amendment said it was a huge step forward.

They made the comments as final tallies at count centres across Ireland indicate almost 70% of the electorate have voted to liberalise the abortion laws.

Yes campaigners celebrate at the count centre in Dublin's RDS. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Together for Yes co-director Orla O'Connor said the exit poll results showed "a resounding roar from the Irish people" for repealing the Eighth Amendment.

"Our campaign and we will be forever indebted to those women and couples whose own bravery and dignity have moved hearts and changed minds - and given the scale of the victory, changed the country," Ms O'Connor said.

Co-director Ailbhe Smyth said: "This will be a moment of profound change in Ireland's social history, a moment when the nation collectively stood up for women and for their healthcare, and voted for constitutional change.

"Together For Yes always knew that Ireland was ready for this change, because of the evidence and facts showing the harm and the pain of the Eighth Amendment."

Amnesty Ireland executive director Colm O'Gorman said the outcome would be a huge milestone for women's rights.

Mr O'Gorman said, by voting resoundingly to end the constitutional ban on abortion, Ireland was sending a powerful message to women and girls in Ireland and across the globe.

"This is such an important vote for women's dignity and bodily autonomy," Mr O'Gorman said.

Vocal Yes campaigner Dr Peter Boylan described the result as a "watershed moment".

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists chairman said he was "very relieved" and felt "vindicated".

"It's a wonderful day for Irish women," Dr Boylan said.

He paid tribute to the women who "told their stories so bravely".

Dr Boylan also thanked his the consultants at the coalface, who he said witnessed at first hand the reality the Eighth Amendment made.

Update: Resounding Yes vote 'a roar for decency and dignity', say campaigners

Pro-choice campaigners have hailed the Yes vote as a resounding roar for "dignity and decency".

Politicians and supporters of repealing the 8th Amendment said it was a huge step forward.

They made the comments as final tallies at count centres across Ireland indicate almost 70% of Irish people have voted to liberalise the country's abortion laws.

Together for Yes co-director Orla O'Connor said the exit poll results showed "a resounding roar from the Irish people" for repealing the Eighth Amendment.

"Our campaign and we will be forever indebted to those women and couples whose own bravery and dignity have moved hearts and changed minds - and given the scale of the victory, changed the country," Ms O'Connor said.

Co-director Ailbhe Smyth said: "This will be a moment of profound change in Ireland's social history, a moment when the nation collectively stood up for women and for their healthcare, and voted for constitutional change.

"Together For Yes always knew that Ireland was ready for this change, because of the evidence and facts showing the harm and the pain of the Eighth Amendment."

Richard Boyd Barrett (Dun Laoghaire Rathdown) has said today's landslide for Yes represents a "people's revolution".

"It's a people's revolution saying we want to leave behind decades of shaming, stigma and a denial of rights," he said. "It's a demand for a more equal Ireland where women are going to be given choice."

He added there was now an overwhelming mandate to bring in the legislation immediately.

He added the result sends a message about the need to separate Church and State completely.

"There's no reason or mandate now for the Church to be running or schools or hospitals. We want publicly and democratically-run services in this country," he said.

Update: Luke Ming Flanagan: 'We were never conservative. We're just complicated'

MEP for the Midlands North West constituency Luke Ming Flanagan has commended the local women who canvassed for Yes, and welcomed Roscommon's apparent strong Yes vote, based on tallies.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the people of Roscommon," he said. "We were put down as conservative. We were never conservative. We're just complicated."

"But today, after an awful lot of work by a massive amount of women I'd never met before - the result is stunning. I'm so, so proud. It was probably the hardest place you could go out an look for a Yes vote. It's inspiring."

He called on the Yes canvassers to stay involved in local politics, and to unseat sitting councillors.

"To those ladies and girls who campaigned for Yes - you're a bloody inspiration. Fair, fair dues to you; I am so happy today."

Meanwhile, Labour's Joan Burton has said the sheer numbers who voted in the referendum was one of the best aspects of the campaign.

Speaking in Dublin West, she said it's roughly 75% in favour of Repeal, like much of Dublin.

Deputy Burton added she believed many of those on the No side "really failed to show compassion about the real-life, lived experiences of an awful lot of families and particularly of women". She welcomed the removal of posters showing foetuses, which has already begun.

Women are going to go on making lots of babies, but now they have choices...The person I would salute today is Mary Robinson - she was a leading campaigner in 1983 against inserting the 8th Amendment in the Constitution.

"I don't know where she is today, but she set a tone for change which we have seen now develop...It's a great day for Ireland."

Update: McDonald and Howlin call for abortion legislation before autumn

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Labour counterpart Brendan Howlin have insisted there is no reason for the Government to delay planned post-referendum abortion laws any longer and to introduce the new rules by the end of summer, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Elaine Loughlin.

The two opposition leaders said the legislation should be fast-tracked due to the scale of public support for the yes campaign in the referendum and in order to avoid a general election being called before the new law is passed.

Health Minister Simon Harris told reporters at the RDS count centre today that he will bring the 12 week unrestricted abortion access legislation to cabinet on Tuesday, before drafting the law over the summer months and bringing it to the Dáil and Seanad in the autumn.

However, speaking to the Irish Examiner at the same count centre, Ms McDonald and Mr Howlin said there is no reason for any delay.

"Can I say given the fact the people have now spoken, those who wished not to see a referendum happen at all, I think now need to just reconcile themselves with the considered and decided position of the people, and we need to legislate and we need to do so not in haste but certainly not any delay.

"I personally think there is no reason why we can't move quite speedily," she said when asked about an October deadline.

"This legislation framework must be the most scrutinised in Irish history, there's been an entire eight weeks in around the parameters of it, so I see no reason for a delay, I see no reason to act.

"Particularly as this issue is one that has been marked historically by horrific delay and cowardice frankly by the Irish political class," Ms McDonald said.

Mr Howlin separately said he also wants to see the abortion law passed before the end of the summer due to the "fragility" of the confidence and supply minority Government.

"Everybody voted with a very clear view of what was going to be enacted, we now have an obligation as speedily as we can to make sure it is enacted.

"This should not be rowed into any General Election campaign and we now have an obligation as legislators to make this the law of the land," he said.

Update: Micheal Martin calls for abortion Bill to be drafted as soon as possible

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has called for the abortion Bill to be drafted and published as quickly as possible, "certainly before the summer recess".

He added he would like to see Dáil debate start before the recess, if possible, "and to have the legislation passed as quickly as possible after that".

"There is momentum coming out of the debate," he said "We should honour what the people have said; that's very fundamental to a parliamentary democracy."

12.45: Leo Varadkar says referendum marks culmination of 'a quiet revolution'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the resounding yes vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment is a “culmination of a quiet revolution” over the last ten or twenty years, writes Juno McEnroe.

He also praised the brave women and men of Ireland who he said had told their stories and had the most influence on the vote.

Speaking as counting continued across the country, Mr Varadkar said that the large yes vote, estimated at over 68% by exit polls, had given the government a mandate now to change the laws.

He said he hoped the government could reform the abortion laws now before the end of the year

“Many brave women and men who told their personal stories on how the Eighth Amendment impacted on them.”

The Taoiseach thanked the citizens assembly for its work on the constitutional assessment over long weekends as well as the Oireachtas Committee and is members who worked on the reforms proposals.

He added that events over the last few years had resulted in the change backed by voters.

“It has allowed us a nation to come of age,” Mr Varadkar told RTE from his constituency count centre in Dublin West.

He also said that the majority yes vote would not have happened without the drawn out political process and work of the two groups.

“The result shows that the process and politics can work.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called on people to celebrate the result of the referendum which he said has liberated Ireland, writes Elaine Loughlin.

"People were determined to make a difference and I think it's truly historic," he said arriving into Dublin's RDS count centre.

I know that people said that we shouldn't be celebrating but I think we should celebrate today because after 30 years we have taken this burden off women, we have made them full citizens in this Republic so that their needs are catered for here, we don't export them any more.

"That really is a joyous time," said Mr Howlin who voted against the eighth amendment as a senator in 1983.

He said he didn't believe that he would see such a "resounding change" in this lifetime.

Mr Howlin "Everybody felt in the last couple of weeks in particular that there was a very strong momentum, I said that I wouldn't be definateve until I test the most conservative parts of my own constituency, a week before polling I did that and I was very confident then.

"This is a liberation for Ireland and I think it sends a signal to everybody and excitement for everybody in this country."

He said the view expressed by the people is now so clear that no TD or senator should be obstructive in legislating for the people's will.

'Take our hand': Simon Harris reaches out to women in crisis pregnancy

Reflecting on an apparent landslide Yes vote, Health Minister Simon Harris said this afternoon: "Today is a hugely significant day for our country", writes Elaine Loughlin.

"The people of Ireland have clearly thought about this issue at great length and for a significant period of time. And now they have answered that question, in a resounding manner," he said.

"They have said they want to live in a country that treats women with compassion.

"Under the 8th Amendment, women in crisis pregnancy have been told to take the plane or take the boat. Today we tell them - 'Take our hand'."

As tallies show a massive landslide win in the referendum to repeal the eighth the Health Minister said he will now bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday to allow him press ahead with drafting new legislation on abortion.

Mr Harris said he has always believed that Irish people are "innately decadent and compassionate" and they obviously voted with those traits to the fore in referendum.

There were emotional scenes as Together for Yes organisers arrived at the RDS this morning. Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald, Minister Katherine Zappone and Mr Harris as well as a number of other politicians from across the political divide have also made their way to the count.

Arriving at the count Mr Harris said: "Today is a hugely significant day for our country, the people of Ireland have clearly thought about this issue at great lengths and for a significant period of time and now they have answered that question and they have answered it in a resounding manner.

"They have said that they want to live in a country that treats women with compassion."

The official result is due to be announced in Dublin Castle this afternoon, however, strong turnout which is expected to see the yes side win by a considerable margin means Mr Harris is confident he can now get legislation across the line in the coming months.

"I think the people have voted in such significant numbers, huge turnouts right across this country, across the political spectrum, across societal spectrum people have voted to say yes and I believe that gives me a mandate now to introduce the legislation, which I published in advance of this referendum.

"It's not government legislation, it's legislation that a huge amount of people, including my colleague Kate O'Connell put a huge amount of work into on a cross party basis.

"It's one that has had legal and medical input and we have had a campaign where civil society and Together for Yes have been to the fore.

"Of course people in the Oireachtas have the right to have their views knowns but I certainly think that those of in the Oireachtas, and those bosses are the people of Ireland and they have spoken very, very quickly.

"I hope on Tuesday to go to government and ask the government for permission to draft legislation. As you know I have published the heads of the bill and they have been well debated by both sides of this campaign and people knew about them when they voted on this issue.

"So I hope to ask the government on Tuesday to provide permission for me to draft. I hope the drafting could take place over the summer months with a view to trying to introduce legislation in the Oireachtas in the autumn session," he said.

Update: Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said: "The huge challenge for us now is to recognise the fears that people who voted No have, and to ensure those fears never, ever get realised."

She referred to "the supports we need to put in for people who are in crisis pregnancy - the prevention measures we need to put in (including) education in our schools and free contraception to ensure we reduce the need for women to have terminations."

She said she was "looking forward" to getting the legislation published.

Update: 'Tears last night, tears this morning...an overwhelming result'

Counting of votes in the abortion referendum has begun across the country this morning after two exit polls predicted a landslide majority in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney says Ireland has made a "very powerful" decision for change.

Speaking from City Hall in Cork, Mr Coveney said: "Sometimes democracy is powerful and yesterday was one of those days.

He said it was a "huge step forward" and will now ensure that a "compassionate and appropriate policy" will be in place.

"I think there will be very few people in the Dáil who will try to frustrate what is the clear will of the vast majority of the people in Ireland who want to see the Government following through on its commitment."

Mr Coveney said that by the time the Dáil breaks for the summer (around the end of the second week in July), the clear heads of the legislation should be ready. With the cooperation of opposition parties, he said the Government could "hopefully" have the legislation passed by the end of the year.

"It takes time to move through the different phases to make sure we get it right. It's important we do that...We are talking about lives here and supporting women and recognising the magnitude of the decision to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland. These are really serious issues"

There was a big fear amongst some people that we would see Dublin make one decision, and the rest of the country make another, and that we would see a really divisive debate, even after it had passed. We haven't seen that.

"What we've seen is a huge amount of undecided people knowing they could no longer accept the status quo because they have heard the stories that resulted from the status quo...We have consensus across the country, and we don't have an urban-rural divide and this will allow politicians to put together really comprehensive legislation that protects women properly for the first time in Ireland."

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South) said: "I'm overwhelmed a bit to be honest. It was a phenomenal result.

"I wasn't expecting it to be such a convincing yes result as what it looks like from the tallies in my own constituency here in Dublin Bay South. Some are looking like 80% in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment."

At the count centre in the RDS, he said: "We were very clear in putting this to the country, on what we wanted to come after that if there was a Yes vote, in terms of the legislation.

We have to move forward now expeditiously with that legislation, but we have to take the necessary care wit hit to make sure we get it right becuase this will be the new law of the land.

He said there should now be no unnecessary delays in bringing the legislation forward.

Fine Gael's Helen McEntee (Meath East) agreed it was "overwhelming...I couldn't be prouder. There were tears last night, tears this morning and I'm finding it hard to hold them back right now doing the tallying. It's a day for us to be proud.

"I'm shocked at the overall result. While canvassing, I always thought it would be 60%-40% for Yes, but I wasn't sure that would transpire in the result. But it has."

Campaigners and politicians in favour of removing the ban on abortion in Ireland have been welcoming the RTÉ and Irish Times exit polls which indicated a 69-31% and 68-32% vote in favour of repealing the 8th.

Yes voters Niamh Brennan and Catriona O'Rourke, both from Finglas, during the abortion referendum count in the RDS, Dublin. Picture: Collins.

The three Co-Directors of the Together For Yes campaign have said today that dignity and decency have won out.

Ailbhe Smyth, Co-Director said: “If exit polls are reflected in the official vote count later today, this will be a moment of profound change in Ireland’s social history, a moment when the nation collectively stood up for women and for their healthcare, and voted for constitutional change."

"Ours was an evidence-led campaign", said campaign Co-Director Grainne Griffin.

"Every step we took, every campaign action, every single initiative we undertook was informed by the fact that we were listening to people at the doors, and in local communities, had access to research about where the people where at and what they wanted.

Ireland has woken to a new dawn today – and we are now a country that is a little more compassionate, more caring and more kind.

Dr Peter Boylan during the Abortion Referendum count in the RDS, Dublin. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins.

Arriving at the RDS count centre in Dublin, vocal Yes campaigner Dr Peter Boylan said he was "very relieved" and felt "vindicated".

"It's a wonderful day for Irish women," he said.

The chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said he wanted to thank and pay particular tribute to the women who "told their stories so bravely" and said it was a "watershed moment" for Ireland.

Earlier, Amnesty International director Colm O'Gorman said the "scale of the result is phenomenal", thanked pro-choice politicians including Health Minister Simon Harris and said Ireland has now decided to "wrap" women in crisis situations "in compassion".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night said history will be made on Saturday after it was predicted Ireland will vote emphatically to remove the eighth amendment 35 years after the divisive abortion ban was introduced.

"Thank you to everyone who voted today. Democracy in action. It’s looking like we will make history tomorrow," he wrote on social media website Twitter.

In a similar statement on the same website, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin threw down the gauntlet to pro-life opponents within his own party who have sought to undermine Mr Martin's decision to publicly and consistently back the yes campaign.

Saying the Government should now move quickly to introduce the planned 12 weeks unrestricted abortion laws in the event of a yes vote, Mr Martin said:

"With exit polls published, it looks like #8thRef has been emphatically passed.

"Important though that we respect and count every vote. If the exit polls are accurate, the view of our Republic is clear and we as an Oireachtas should move efficiently to enact the will of our people."

Meanwhile, in another statement last night, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said simply "Ireland is changing".

“I want to thank Sinn Féin members from across Ireland and all those who campaigned for a Yes vote and for the leadership of the Together for Yes Group.

“This campaign was marked by the woman who came forward to share their personal stories of dealing with tragic circumstances.

“The campaign created a space for Ireland, North and South, to look at the experiences of women and I believe that we are all better for that. The voices of these women have been heard and can no longer be silenced by guilt or neglected by Government.

“Ireland is changing and this is evident in the vibrant Yes campaign headed up by women and young people. I want to thank each and every one who voted and campaigned for Yes," Ms McDonald said.

Reacting to the exit poll results, a director at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said Irish voters have shown that denying women the right to abortion services in their own country in 2018 is not acceptable.

External affairs director Clare Murphy said: "This is a momentous step forward that is long overdue.

"For decades, Irish women have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to our clinics in England, often alone, at a huge personal and emotional cost.

"The result, once confirmed, means that the Irish government can bring an end to this suffering, and legislate to provide the care women need at home."

- Digital Desk


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