Donegal is the only county in Ireland to vote 'No' to repeal Eighth Amendment
DONEGAL has emerged as the only constituency to return a No vote in the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.
Voters were almost evenly split, with 2,532 votes separating the two sides in the end.
The final result, announced at 6.20pm, revealed that 52 per cent of the electorate had voted No and 48 per cent voted Yes to the repeal of the amendment.
Turnout at 57 percent was lower than the national average of 64.51 per cent. Yes and No votes in urban areas such as Letterkenny and Donegal were close but the margin widened in more rural parts of the county with several rural polling stations in the Fanad and Inishowen peninsulas returned a decisive 70 per cent No vote.
Speaking earlier at the Letterkenny count centre, a sombre Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Joe McHugh said the referendum had given people an opportunity to vote on a matter of conscience.
“When this legislation comes before the Dail, I certainly will be reflecting a very strong point of view even from those who were marginally on the Yes side that they don’t want a liberal regime in this country, and I certainly will be reflecting that,” he said.
Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who campaigned for a Yes vote said that the county’s other political representatives would have to reflect on how they contributed to the final result.
“I think TDs have played politics with this. Politicians should be looking to reflect and represent the people rather than be looking to look after themselves.”
He added that while he was disappointed with the outcome, it remained a significant Yes vote for Donegal which had voted so overwhelmingly in favour of the 8th amendment, 35 years ago.
“Donegal is gradually becoming more progressive. Obviously I’m disappointed it wasn’t an overall Yes, but, I will take a 49 per cent yes, given where Donegal is coming from, because that’s vitally important, and it’s important in the context of the national figures as well. In reality Donegal is not an independent state so it ties in with the overall national figure.”
Welcoming the No vote, Tim Jackson, the anti-abortion activist who heckled Health Minister, Simon Harris at a Yes event last week, commented;
“I am glad that the people of Donegal have seen sense today and voted against killing their own children but for the rest of the country to vote en masse for killing human beings for generations to come, long after they are gone, to me makes this the darkest day in Irish history.”
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%
Donegal has had a contrary history of voting No in referendums, rejecting eight out of the last ten referendums.
In 1983, an overwhelming eight out of ten voters in the county voted in support of the 8th Amendment.
In 1995, 60 per cent of the electorate voted against the removal of the constitutional prohibition on divorce.
The county was one of just three to vote no in the Children’s Referendum.
But in 2015, Donegal voted by a narrow margin in support of Marriage Equality.
In the course of this campaign, the constituency made headlines when 17,000 white crosses were erected by Pro Life campaigners under the cover of darkness along the N13 between Letterkenny and the Derry border at Bridgend.
Before the Donegal count was announced, Donegal Yes campaigners defiantly chanted ‘The Country Votes Yes’ when the national results were announced live from the RDS.
Nora Newell, a campaigner with the Donegal Together for Yes group said that fear was still a factor that influenced voters in Donegal.
“We noticed people on the doorsteps were afraid of saying what way they were voting. If you just look at the posters and leaflets and women being called murderer, and told they should be ashamed of themselves, it has an impact. This has caused a lot of a divisiveness within families, which was too much and which meant the conversations weren’t happening.
“Only yesterday, I was screamed at in the street by someone telling me I should be ashamed of myself. I am not ashamed of myself, I am not ashamed of any woman owning their body and their right to it.”