Date set for referendum on the Eighth Amendment
THE referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment will take place on Friday, May 25.
Legislation allowing for the vote has passed through the Seanad this evening by a majority of 40 to 10.
It will officially kick-start an eight week campaign that many fear will be deeply divisive.
Health Minister Simon Harris said the campaign will be "very close".
"I’m sure it will be a close referendum campaign; often referendum campaigns in Ireland are very close", he said today.
"It’s only kicking off; I think for many people they’re just beginning to think about the issues and these are deeply personal, private issues and I would imagine you’ll have conversations around kitchen tables and in the privacy of sitting rooms."
Meanwhile, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy formally announced the date on the referendum to take place on May 25.
Polling will take place between the hours of 7am and 10pm.
The total electorate currently stands at some 3.2 million.
"Whatever your views are on the proposals in the referendum, can I take this opportunity to encourage voters to go to their polling station during this 15 hour period on 25 May and have your say in the outcome of the referendum”, Mr Murphy said.
A postal vote will close on April 28.
Speaking at the conclusion of the Seanad debate, Senator Ronan Mullan warned Mr Harris that he would not get away with doing “one on one” radio interviews.
He said both sides “need equal time in the media” so that the “real problems with this very unjust proposal” can be exposed.
Fianna Fáil senator Catherine Ardagh said there are a lot of facts to be studied ahead of the vote.
“Take the time to sit down and learn it,” she urged.
Labour senator Ivana Bacik predicted an “intense campaign”, saying those opposed to change were in denial about the hypocrisy of Irish law.
But she added: “We shouldn’t under estimate the significant achievement it has been to get this Bill through both Houses of the Oireachtas.”
Fine Gael’s Catherine Noone, who chaired the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, said: “It has been a challenging and intense process. I’m very pleased that we are finally at this stage.”
“Finally after 35 years of avoiding this deeply personal issue, the Irish people will have their say.”