Analysis: Fianna Fail will have to do some serious soul searching after this
THERE will be no small amount of soul searching in Fianna Fail in the coming days as the party comes to terms with the landslide vote in favour of repeal.
The party - which became the most divided in the country over the course of debate - must now get to grips with the fact that it appears wildly out of touch with the mood of the country.
A majority of the party's parliamentary party, as well as their grassroots members, emerged as opponents to repeal. And as the votes are tallied and the result rolls in around the country the party will now need to look at their decisions. The only saving grace perhaps is that leader Michael Martin has managed to read the people with astute accuracy by backing repeal and campaigning for a Yes vote.
His decision sent shockwaves through his party but his stance and his considered speech in the Dail will stand him in good stead as the party regroups over the coming weeks and months.
Before Friday he was the political leader with the most to lose: had he read it wrong a leadership battle in the near future wouldn't have been entirely unexpected. But as he emerges on the right side of the debate he is now a party leader with a renewed authority - but it won't be easy.
Throughout the campaign there was a sense of nothing to see here, those opposing repeal insisted the differences had not caused divisions but with a very small majority of Fianna Fail voters (50.3pc) voting No according to an RTE exit poll Mr Martin must now look at reuniting not only the party but unifying their supporters.
There looks to be no reprieve for the party in rural Ireland either. Health Minister Simon Harris noted the result showed there is "one Ireland" - rural voters it seems have also backed repeal by strong margins nationwide, putting to bed the notion that there is a chasm between rural and urban Ireland.
And with a party who has long relied on its older voters it must now, like most others in the political establishment, get to grips with a young voter cohort who have shown that they are politically engaged on this issue at least. It will be no mean feat to woo a new generation of voters to the party and convince them that they are relevant.
Some in the party, particularly those who backed repeal, will hope that any pending general election will take place once the reverberations of the referendum have subsided and that the election will be fought on the usual big issues of housing and health.
Constituencies with the strongest Yes/No vote
The table below shows the top five constituencies with the strongest vote for or against repealing the Eighth Amendment.
Dublin Bay South 78.49% 21.51%
Dún Laoghaire 77.06% 22.94%
Dublin Fingal 76.96% 23.04%
Dublin Central 76.51% 23.49%
Dublin Rathdown 76.10% 23.90%
Donegal 48.13% 51.87%