| 5.6°C Dublin

'What are the facts?' and 'What does Repeal mean?': What people are Googling ahead of the Abortion Referendum

Referendum Insight: The questions people are asking with just hours to go before the polls open


Photo: Arthur Carron

Photo: Arthur Carron

Photo: Arthur Carron

The countdown is on and Ireland's referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment is now just hours away.

But what kind of information are people seeking on Google before they cast their vote?

Independent.ie analysed the most common referendum-related Google queries in Ireland over the last 90 days.

The analysis was carried out under the terms; 'abortion referendum', 'Eighth Amendment', 'Repeal', 'abortion', 'referendum' and 'vote'.

Here are the most common Googled questions - and the answers to go with them.


'Date for Ireland's abortion referendum?'

Ireland's referendum will take place on Friday, May 25. Details about your polling station will be on your polling card and they will be open between 7am and 10pm on May 25.

'Voter registration'

People had until May 8 to register to vote or to change their voting address.

If you're not listed on checktheregister.ie then the best thing you can do is simply to ring your local authority and they should be able to check for certain.

'Abortion Referendum facts'

The Referendum Commission gives independent and neutral information - the facts surrounding the referendum and what people are being asked to vote on is available online here.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

'Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland'

Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983.

It states: "The states acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

'What is Eighth Amendment in simple terms?'

The Eighth Amendment was voted into the Constitution in 1983 by referendum. Abortion had always been illegal but it was not cited in the 1937 Constitution in the same way as a prohibition on divorce was.

A number of pro-Life activists wanted a constitutional prohibition to make future abortion legislation more difficult. They persuaded both big political leaders – Charlie Haughey, of Fianna Fáil, and Dr Garret FitzGerald, of Fine Gael – to go with the idea of a referendum. This eventually happened on September 7, 1983. On the day, just 54pc of the people turned out to vote.

The prohibition was carried by a vote of 2:1. The Eighth Amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with the foetus and has since been criticised by pro-Choice campaigners for creating an unworkable distinction between a pregnant woman's life and her health.

'8th amendment opinion poll'

The Sunday Independent published a Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll earlier this month. The poll pointed to two Irelands, split by urban-rural divide. The poll predicted the abortion referendum to pass by a narrow majority but said "success is by no means certain at this stage".

Excluding undecided voters, the poll found 57pc to 43pc support repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and unborn.

However, when undecided voters were included, the poll shows 45pc in favour, 34pc against, with a considerable 18pc undecided and 4pc who did not express an opinion.

The survey also revealed that more Yes (18pc) than No (15pc) supporters have reservations about the proposed amendment. Furthermore, more men (21pc) that women (15pc) have doubts about the proposal.

However, the poll overall found some movement in favour of repeal, with strong support among young people in urban areas, and particularly among women in the lower-middle and skilled working social classes' cohort.

A notable feature in the poll is an urban-rural divide, which shows Dublin (51pc) in favour of repeal, falling to 37pc in Connacht/Ulster.

But the fact that a significant number are still undecided, and that somewhat more Yes than No voters have doubts, will see the campaign go

'Together for Yes'

Together for Yes is the umbrella campaign group for the Pro-Choice group.

'Repeal the 8th meaning'

The meaning of 'Repeal the 8th' is to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Irish Constitution. The amendment was voted in by referendum in 1983.

'What does repeal mean?'

'Repeal' means to revoke or annul a law or act of parliament.

'Late Late Show abortion debate'

The Late Late Show held the first major TV debate of the Abortion Referendum. It is available to watch until May 27th here.

'Abortion rights campaign'

The Together for Yes group are running the abortion rights campaign ahead of the referendum.

'Referendum Commission'

The Referendum Commission is an independent body that explains the subject matter of referendum proposals and promotes public awareness of a referendum. You can visit their website here.

'Check the register'

People had until May 8 to register to vote or to change their voting address. Anyone who is an Irish citizen and at least 18 years of age can vote, so long as they are on the Register of Electors.

Polling cards started arriving this week but you don't actually need them to vote, so long as you're on the electoral register you can vote.

You do need to bring some form of valid ID - for example, a passport, driving licence or public services card.