It's a big Yes: Stunning victory officially confirmed as 66.4pc vote to reform Ireland's restrictive abortion laws
- Emphatic win for Yes side confirmed
- 39 out of 40 constituencies vote to repeal Eighth Amendment
- Taoiseach: This is a country where we trust women
- Father of Savita Halappanavar: 'We've got justice for Savita'
ON A day that will long be remembered as significant in our social history, Ireland has voted to reform its highly-restrictive abortion laws - and has done so emphatically.
Yes campaigners are tonight taking in a stunning victory after the results were confirmed at Dublin Castle, with a huge majority of voters - some 66.4pc- casting their ballot in favour of repealing the hugely-controversial Eighth Amendment.
Donegal was the only constituency that voted against repeal, and it was only a narrow victory for the No side there.
But elsewhere it was a stunning victory for the Yes campaign, with a huge majority in a number of constituencies - including 78pc in Dublin Bay South- and among all age groups under the age of 65. While the result may have not have been entirely unexpected, the emphatic nature of it certainly is - and is likely to have major short- and medium-term implications for the Irish political system.
There was no urban-rural divide as had been predicted in some quarters. Instead, an incredible 39 out of 40 constituencies right across the State voted Yes.
And Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the consensus included men and women and nearly all social classes. Turnout was approximately 65pc.
The question on the ballot asked citizens to opt to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the state's constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.
Pollsters suggested the stories of women forced to travel to the UK for terminations or take illegal pills obtained on the internet helped sway public opinion, as well as the death of an Indian dentist denied the procedure while she miscarried.
With 66pc of voters backing the Government's proposal to allow abortions in Ireland, Mr Varadkar called the result a “quiet revolution.”
He said: “We have voted to look reality in the eye and we did not blink.”
For those who voted No, he said: “I would like to reassure you that Ireland is still be the same country today as it was before, just a little more tolerant, open and respectful.”
Mr Varadkar said for 35 years we had “hidden our conscience behind the Constitution” but voters had said “no more”.
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%
“No more doctors telling their patients there is nothing that can be done for them in their own country.
“No more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea. No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted.
“No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone.”
The father of the late Savita Halappanavar said he has "no words to express his gratitude to the people of Ireland" as the country repealed the Eighth Amendment.
Indian dentist Savita (31) died of sepsis in a hospital in Galway in 2012 after she was denied an abortion during miscarriage.
Her husband Praveen Halappanavar claimed she requested a termination but was refused because the baby's heart was still beating.
A midwife manager at Galway University Hospital confirmed that she told Mrs Halappanavar a termination could not be carried out because Ireland was a "Catholic country".
Speaking to the Hindustan Times today, her father Andanappa Yalagi said he was "very happy" to hear the exit poll results of the abortion referendum as Ireland heads towards a resounding "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."
According to the RTE exit poll, a total of 8pc of voters surveyed said their 'Yes' vote was influenced by Savita's story alone.
Ministers have promised to allow terminations within the first 12 weeks, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.
Mr Varadkar said the results represented "the culmination of a quiet revolution", one that had been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 to 20 years.
"We are a country that is not divided, a country that says that we respect women, that we trust women and we support them."
He said the result was a mandate to bring forward legislation enabling the procedure and the Government is expected to pass laws by the end of the year.
"The people have said that we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision and the right choices about their healthcare."
A vocal anti-repeal movement conceded defeat, calling the the result "a tragedy of historic proportions."
Anti-repeal activist Cora Sherlock said that “what we voted on today is the ending of human life.”
Ms Sherlock said she is personally “very, very upset” at the exit polls but that the pro-life movement will continue in its pursuit to keep Ireland abortion-free.
"I will accept the will of the Irish people, at the same time I will make it very clear what I feel of the campaign that has taken place. We will now regroup and find out what our next move is," says Ms Sherlock.
Head of Save the 8th John McGuirk said that "the constitution has changed but the facts have not".
"The 8th Amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child- it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed, and will always exist," Mr McGuirk said.
"hat Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions. However, a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it."
The contentious Eighth Amendment that effectively bans terminations - a constitutional provision now destined for the history books - was voted into the state's legal framework in 1983.
It is remarkable that the winning margin for anti-abortion activists 35 years ago - 67pc to 33pc - has been turned on its head.
Ailbhe Smyth of the Together For Yes campaign said: "This is a vote for dignity and decency. 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."
Simon Harris also reacted to the historic result, saying: "I think the people of Ireland have voted with compassion to the fore of their mind, I'm so humbled to be their Health Minister today.
"We have faced up to reality that women are leaving our country every day to access terminations.
"As long as it remained in our constitution we were saying to woman 'take the plane of take the boat', now we're saying 'take our hand'."