People urged to register to vote ahead of referendum; Undecided voters ‘need reassurance’

The independent Referendum Commission has urged people to register to vote ahead of today’s deadline to have a say in the May 25 referendum.

The de facto referendum referee issued the last-minute call, warning that anyone who is not on the register by close of office hours this afternoon that they will not be able to vote.

Anyone who is not registered to vote in their local authority will not receive a polling card.

A Referendum Commission spokesman said anyone who is unsure if they are registered should look up

He said those who are not registered should download a county council RFA2 form today, bring it to their local Garda station with a passport or photo ID, and “hand deliver it” to their local authority office, as it will be too late at that stage to post the documents.

Anyone who has changed their address on the register will need to download an RFA3 form, while recent Irish citizens will need an RFA5 form.

The rival Together For Yes and Love Both campaigns have urged supporters to register, saying every vote will count on Friday, May 25.

Undecided voters ‘need reassurance’

Eoin English

Targeting undecided voters and providing them with reassurance about what may come after a yes vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum will be crucial over the next two weeks.

That was the message from all the major political parties to the Cork branch of pro-choice campaign group Together for Yes at a breakfast briefing in the city yesterday.

Tánaiste and Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney, Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, Sinn Féin TDs Jonathan O’Brien and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, senators Jerry Buttimer and Colette Kelleher, and Sinn Féin city councillor Mick Nugent and Fine Gael county councillor Susan McCarthy attended the event.

Mr Coveney said the focus needs to be on undecided voters, which he estimated account for around 30% of the electorate.

“The work that’s needed is to reassure people who I would regard as a very similar category to myself, who accept that there needs to be change, but aren’t quite sure how far that should go,” said Mr Coveney.

I think people need reassurance as to why change is needed, why the status quo is not OK for the next 10 years, and they are willing to listen.

“Up to 30% are still undecided. They know the law and Constitution is causing harm, and they recognise they need to change that, but there is a fear that taking it out of the Constitution will lead to something they can’t control in the future.”

Mr Coveney said people need to be told that a no vote means nothing will change, and those in the middle ground need reassurance that if they vote for change they won’t regret it.

Mr Kelleher said the campaign was all about the middle ground from now on.

“They are the people who accept that the status quo cannot prevail, that there has to be change, but it’s what comes after that change. That’s where we have to reassure,” he said.

Gianna Jessen (left) who survived an abortion speaking to a crowd on St Patrick street in Cork city on Monday. “If abortion is about womans rights, then where were mine”. Picture: Cillian Kelly
Gianna Jessen (left) who survived an abortion speaking to a crowd on St Patrick street in Cork city on Monday. “If abortion is about womans rights, then where were mine”. Picture: Cillian Kelly

Mr O’Brien said his time on the Joint Oireachtas Committee, considering all the available information, led him to the realisation that people can disagree with abortion while still being able to speak up for women’s rights to access the healthcare they need.

Cork Together for Yes chairwoman Kathy D’Arcy said it was powerful to see members of so many political parties attending the briefing.

Nobody wants to have an abortion; but sometimes a woman needs to. We need to show compassion and not judgement to these women, said Ms D’Arcy.

Meanwhile, the LoveBoth campaign expressed disappointment that a number of Irish actors announced their support for the yes campaign over the weekend.

Several stars, including Saoirse Ronan, Liam Cunningham, Tom Vaughan Lawlor, and Cillian Murphy, appeared in a video urging a yes vote. Liam Neeson also wrote at the weekend in support of a yes vote.

LoveBoth spokeswoman Cora Sherlock said: “It’s very disappointing that Irish celebrities have chosen to use their voice, not in defence of the weak but in defence of a Government proposal to take the right to life out of the Constitution.”

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