Tuesday 22 October 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

It's count day - and here are the key moments from the Abortion Referendum campaign

Leo Varadkar during a commuter canvass in Dublin by Fine Gael members supporting repeal of the 8th Amendment (Brian Lawless/PA)
Leo Varadkar during a commuter canvass in Dublin by Fine Gael members supporting repeal of the 8th Amendment (Brian Lawless/PA)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

AS the count gets underway at centres nationwide, Independent.ie take a look back at the key moments in the campaign.

1. 'Repeal and replace'

Last December an all-party Oireachtas committee which examined abortion recommended the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution.

The report - which also recommended a ‘repeal and replace' approach - formed the basis for the Government’s proposals for legislation in advance of a Yes vote.

A provision to allow terminations up to 12 weeks was recommended by the committee, which was chaired by Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone.

That proposal - deemed by the committee as the best scenario to ensure the so-called hard cases of rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormality - would go on to become among the most contentious issues of the campaign.

With the launch of the report the starting gun was fired and the Government began work on legislation which would allow the landmark legislation to take place.

Catherine Noone. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

2. Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin’s u-turn after his 'long period of reflection'

During a considered Dail speech in January Mr Martin set out his position on abortion - which was a significant distance from his long-held pro-life views.

The Fianna Fail leader took to the floor and spoke about his own journey to supporting repeal which he said followed a "long period of reflection".

He outlined plans to vote Yes and his support for a 12-week time limit.

His speech came against a backdrop of the party’s Ard Fheis earlier voting to retain the Eighth Amendment and a significant number of parliamentary party members opposing the abolition of the amendment. In the meantime the pro-life cohort of the party have made their stance known - with many taking part in Vote No photocalls.

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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

3. Leo Varadkar finally declaring his support for 'repeal'

Later in January Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined his intent to campaign for the liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion laws.

The Fine Gael leader had batted away months of questioning on the issue up to that point.

He has since said he did not wish to state his views, and the fact that he supported abortion up to 12 weeks, as he did not wish to influence the outcome of the Oireachtas committee.

His support for repeal and a change to Ireland’s abortion laws marked a significant turnaround for the Dublin west TD since his early career when he held a firm pro-life stance.

Mr Varadkar said it was during his tenure as Minister for Health that he came to believe that the Constitution was not the place to deal with the issue of abortion.

In the meantime Mr Varadkar has canvassed for a Yes vote in both his constituency and at Fine Gael events around the country. He opted not to take part in head-to-head televised debates ahead of the vote but has done a number of broadcast interviews on the issue.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

4. Is he, isn't he? Simon Coveney’s back and forth

Tanaiste Simon Coveney’s initial reticence in backing the Taoiseach’s stance on repeal and allowing unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks opened him up to accusations of confusing the issue at a crucial time.

Mr Coveney struggled with the idea of 12 weeks and the idea of unrestricted access to terminations but said he worked with his colleagues to ensure the draft legislation included as many safeguards as possible.

Writing in the Irish Independent in March he clarified his position and said:

"I believe if people vote ‘Yes’ in this Referendum and allow the Government to legislate we will get that balance right and protect women in the appropriate way."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

5. 'That' studio debate on Claire Byrne Live

The first televised head-to-head debate of the campaign saw three contributors on each side of the debate and a live studio audience.

The debate, for numerous reasons, sparked a national conversation about the referendum that seemed to be more heightened than anything that had happened to date.

Viewers of the debate seemed to largely agree that the 'No' side won the debate - led by The Iona Institute’s Maria Steen.

The clapping from audience members was something that also stirred up conversations - with many commenting that it was inappropriate given the topic up for discussion.

In total 650,000 viewers tuned in at some point during the programme on Monday night and the programme received a number of complaints from viewers.

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RTÉ star Claire Byrne hosted the programme which has drawn complaints. Photo: Fergal Phillips

6. The 'Mexican stand-off'

NO campaigners accused RTÉ of interfering in the referendum debate by attempting to "rig" Tuesday night’s Prime Time debate in favour of the 'Yes' side.

Independent.ie first revealed how a massive row erupted behind the scene when the No campaign said it wanted to replace Love Both’s Cora Sherlock with Ms Steen. RTÉ refused the substitution on the grounds that the Iona Institute representative took part in the Claire Byrne Live debate the week before.

A Mexican stand-off ensued as both sides refused to back down, with the programme instead hosting a one-a-side debate, both of whom were men.

Save The 8th spokesperson John McGuirk claimed RTÉ was trying "to do to us in this referendum what they did to Sean Gallagher".

RTÉ said it was "disappointed" Ms Sherlock didn’t show up for the debate "despite confirming her participation last week".

The broadcaster released figures showing that 738,000 viewers tuned into Prime Time at some stage.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris (left) and Peader Tóibín (right) appear on last night's Prime Time debate with Miriam O'Callaghan

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