Revealed: The winners and losers after Ireland's overwhelming 'Yes' vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment

Leo Varadkar (left), Simon Harris (right) and Senator Catherine Noone celebrate at Dublin Castle (Brian Lawless/PA)

Laura Larkin

The scale of the landslide referendum result was unexpected by many - including those who backed repeal - and as the country looks towards the next steps against a backdrop of what many view as a ‘new Ireland’ there are some clear winners and losers following the extensive campaign.


Simon Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris - who spent much of the last weeks dealing with the Cervical Check controversy - has emerged from the campaign as a hero to many. In Dublin Castle on Saturday there was a reception for him that has rarely been seen for any Irish politician in history: emotional campaigners embraced him through tears and cheers erupted wherever he went. There was even a sign which read ‘I fancy Simon Harris’ - an outcome probably nobody anticipated.

SELFIE: Minister Simon Harris with Seana Glennon and Beatrice White at the count centre in the RDS. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The young minister will now be seen as the driving force behind the campaign and he will have no small amount of political capital as he faces his next task: getting legislation through the Dail and establishing abortion services - all the while working in a portfolio deemed by many as a 'poisoned chalice'.

Mary Lou McDonald

The referendum campaign came at a pivotal time for Mary Lou McDonald as she worked to cement her place as leader of Sinn Fein - and she did emerge as one of the most prominent voices in the campaign for Yes.

Early in the campaign the party was dogged with questions about their position on access to abortion up to 12 weeks - the party will not take a position on this until their Ard Fheis in July. As polling day neared however, Ms McDonald was an ever-present political voice speaking on the broader issues.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald presents her identity documents at St Joseph’s School, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

She will now face the party in July with a clear mandate: the people of Ireland have overwhelmingly backed her stance and her hardline among party members has proven to be on the right side of history.

Turnout in her constituency of Dublin Central however was among the lowest in Dublin - but returned the fourth highest Yes vote overall - so it will remain to be seen if her position will be boosted by the outcome.

The left:

Political parties of the left have had a long-held stance on abortion and the Eighth Amendment and until this week these views may have been seen as a minority view. However the scale of the Yes vote has shown that - on this issue in particular -  their finger was on the pulse of the nation.

People Before Profit’s Brid Smith is among those who emerged as an influential voice in the campaign and shared her personal story of abortion.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith

It is not yet clear if those on the left will see a bounce in the next general election on the back of the referendum but their commitment to repeal has certainly been vindicated.


Fianna Fáil

As the exit polls, tallies and final count rolled in from around the country there was likely to be some hot under the collar in Fianna Fail - the party it seems missed the mark widely when it came to the mood of the country on this issue.

Michael Martin - whose decision to back repeal following what he termed a long personal journey - has, at least, been shown to have made the right call.

He will now face the prospect of bringing the party together and covering over the cracks that emerged during the campaign. He will also be hoping that the political analysts are correct in their prediction that the referendum result will have little impact on their performance in the next election.

Rural Independents

A number of high-profile rural independent TDs came out strongly against repeal - but their position was not borne out in the votes of their constituents.

Pundits noted early on Saturday that the picture emerging from the so-called Healy Rae country, their stronghold of Kilgarvan, showed Yes would win out. But Michael Healy Rae defended his position noting almost 42pc of the people of Kerry had the same views as him.

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath - one of the most prominent political voices for No - has already said he will not hold up legislation given the scale of the Yes vote.

Mattie McGrath TD

But the TDs, despite seeming out of touch, are likely to emerged unscathed.

Their hold in their constituencies was unlikely to have been bolstered much by their position on abortion - and by the same hand is now unlikely to be damaged by it.

Long-time campaigners

For some in the political arena, including Senator Ronan Mullen, their pro-life views have been long held and long aired. Now they will continue to come to terms with what will be viewed as a bruising result.

For the No campaign as a whole they have conceded the scale of the loss and vowed to regroup.

In the coming months there is likely to be a significant re-mapping of their next moves as they look towards championing their cause under the auspice of looking to reverse the status quo as opposed to retaining it.

DEFEAT: Senator Ronan Mullen at the count centre in Roscommon. Photo: Steve Humphreys