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Dublin: 21°C Sunday 13 June 2021


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ALMOST 35 YEARS after the Irish people voted to insert Article 40.3.3 into our Constitution, today we were asked whether we wanted it removed.

The contentious amendment bans abortion in all circumstances except when a woman’s life is at risk.

Polls opened across the country at 7am this morning and were due to close at 10pm.

This is how events played out from early morning, until we ended our rolling coverage shortly before 7pm.

Good morning, Rónán Duffy here to take you through the morning’s voting.

If you have any stories to tell or observations to share you can send me an email on ronan@thejournal.ie or tweet me at @ronanduffy_.

You might be hoping to get your vote in before work or planning to do it later, but whatever time you’re going to do it at we’ve put a guide together about how you actually vote.

It’s basic enough stuff to be fair but you can never be too careful.

Here’s everything you need to know and if you’ve got your earphones in here’s our Nicky Ryan to explain it all anyway.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

PastedImage-65465 Source: TheJournal.ie

In our Q&A: Eighth Amendment Referendum series, we’ve been answering questions our readers have submitted in relation to today’s vote.

We’ve received a whole host of questions about the issue and we’ve been trying our best to provide voters with the information they need.

We’ve collated all the questions and answers in one place and it may be useful to you if you’re still on the fence about how exactly you’ll vote:

Polls have been open literally minutes, but already people have been voting.

Many have been happily tweeting about casting their ballot while others were just snapped by hungry photographers.

Here are some early voters.

Ireland abortion laws An unnamed man enters the polling station in Knock National school. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

A Yes voter in Dublin was up early.

Gerry and Gaye Edwards who lost a their son following a diagnosis fatal foetal abnormality went on to found Termination for Medical Reasons Ireland.

Following its huge impact in the marriage equality referendum, the #HomeToVote movement is again a central part of today’s ballot.

People have been sharing images of emotional scenes are Irish airports and tweets about being helped by others to make it back to Ireland.

We spoke to some of those who were making the journey back to vote in today’s referendum.

Sometimes though images are all you need.

Ireland abortion laws Shannon O'Reilly arriving home from the Netherlands to vote. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

Some just went to the airport to check it all out.

Much will be made about turnout today and the number of people voting today will of course influence the overall result.

It was confirmed earlier this week that about about 125,000 people registered to vote ahead of today’s referndum so we could have a bumper poll.

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – described the situation as an “unprecedented surge of voter registration”.

Even the chair of the Referendum Commission has a vote, and she has been encouraging everyone to use theirs.

Isobel Kennedy also came in to speak to us in TheJournal.ie to give us the most impartial of impartial information about what we’re voting on.

Here is what she told us.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

One nifty addition that’s available for the first time in today’s vote is a new “tactile voting” system that allows people who are visually impaired casting their vote in secret.

It used to be the case that people with sight loss had to vote with the assistance of someone else but the new device means they can do it by themselves.

The tactile voting device, or tactile ballot template (examples enclosed), is placed over the ballot paper and includes Braille and embossed numbers, with a cut out square over the slot where the ballot is marked.

The device is removed from the ballot paper, which is folded and placed in the ballot box.

rt n Source: RTE News

One thing people have been very keen to point out is that canvassing near a polling station is not allowed.

Canvassing – described as leafleting, displaying posters, or using a loudspeaker – is not allowed within 50 metres of a polling station, and is classed as an offence.

The usual advice is that a presiding officer could consider other campaigning material – be it a campaign jumper like a Repeal jumper or Love Both hoodie, or badges – to class as canvassing.

This also means that posters should not be allowed within 5o metres of polling stations.

But it seems some have spotted a few a lot closer.

A word from a couple of lead campaigners this morning

Orla O’Connor of Together for Yes

Declan Ganley of Save the 8th

You may not pay attention to celebrity political endorsements and you’re very much well entitled to ignore them, even when U2 had their say on the referendum.

But sometimes it’s hard not to take notice, for whatever reason. Perhaps one of the oddest ones yet though is BBC football presenter Gary Lineker who has also come out for a Yes this morning.

Worth the flight alone tbh…

paper Source: RefCom.ie

When voting today, don’t be confused by what you see written on the ballot paper.

Although the referendum focuses on the amendment that was introduced back in 1983, it is actually a vote on the 36th Amendment to the Constitution.

That has been lost in the noise of the debate, as so much focus is placed on the Eighth.

The ballot paper you receive tomorrow will only mention the 36th.

Here’s our guide to the ballot paper

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

We’ve seen some pretty amazing home to vote stories, but here’s one from someone who won’t make it home.

Ireland’s Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy is currently competing in the Volvo Ocean race and she’s sent her wishes from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

PastedImage-71304 Source: Twitter/Annalise_Murphy

As you may have heard, there were some votes cast yesterday.

A total of 19 islands off the west coast had voters yesterday. The island with the fewest number of voters was Donegal’s Inishfree where just four people were eligible to vote.

On Inis Mór there were the was the rather demonic number of 666 people who were registered to vote.

Here’s a full list of all yesterday’s voting islanders.

Ireland abortion laws Garda Alan Gallagher and Presiding Officer Carmel McBride carry a polling box of the coast of Inishbofin. Source: PA ImagesGarda Alan Gallagher and Presiding Officer Carmel McBride carry a polling box of the coast of Inishbofin.Source: PA Images

Predicting overall turnout at early points in the day is very difficult.

Many people choose to vote after work so putting a number on things early isn’t very useful. What you can do though is judge based on those who have voted early are there many people doing the same.

Polls have only been opened but 3.5 hours but there are any indications that a lot of people have chosen to vote early.

Five years ago from yesterday, TDs from a number of parties met with Terminations for Medical Reasons (TFMR) in Leinster House to speak about the experiences of women who had had a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

One of those who spoke after the meeting was Simon Harris, then a TD who’d been elected for the first time two years previous.

At the time Harris said that for him, the issue at hand was not one about abortion, pro-choice or pro-life it but a “specific issue that needs to be dealt with”. He told the women that the retelling of their experiences had a “profound impact”.

Today Simon Harris is Health Minister and has been campaigning for a Yes vote.

One thing you may have missed yesterday, but should absolutely check out and look out for today is theory by Twitter user @Pidge.

It’s in this thread and suggests that Ireland’s ‘voting nuns’ election trope may actually just be one media hungry nun who loves getting her photo taken.

The evidence is compelling, click into the thread.

Back to the aul celebrity endorsements for a second. The most followed Irish person on Twitter is Niall Horan, formerly of One Direction.

The Westmeath native has over 40 million followers on the platform and has today urged people to “make another great decision”.

A Ryanair plane carrying dozens of Irish voters home for the referendum was struck by another passenger jet on the runway at Stansted this morning.

Ryanair has said that its plane was stationary at the time when it was clipped by a Primera Air aircraft.

The airline has said that they are transferring passengers to another plane and that they will be arrive later today.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar cast his vote in Castleknock in the past hour.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also voted in Cork South Central.

Oh, oh, hold on.

We have our first ‘nuns voting’ shot of the day. Unfortunately, it’s from behind so the below mentioned theory is yet to be tested.

3680 Polling Station_90545837 Nuns arriving at the polling station in Ballsbridge College in Dublin. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Campaigners are still trying to convince voters this afternoon with over nine hours left before polls close at 10pm.

Together for Yes have some peddle cars driving around Dublin.

IMG_20180524_120602712_HDR Source: Together for Yes

The Life Institute is also out campaigning for a No in the capital.

Sinéad O’Carroll popping in so Rónán can get some lunch and we’ve just go pictures through of Health Minister Simon Harris voting.

There has been a lot of chat around today after people spotted Bibles in their polling stations.

Garreth McNamee has the reason here:

The Bibles are there for people to swear confirmation of identity, if they show up to vote without ID or a polling card.

It’s provided for under Section 111 of the Electoral Act 1992, which states:

The returning officer or presiding officer may, and if so required by a personation agent present in the polling station shall, administer to any person when he applies for a ballot paper, but not afterwards, an oath or (in the case of any person who objects to taking an oath on the ground that he has no religious belief or that the taking of an oath is contrary to his religious belief) an affirmation in the following form:

“I swear by Almighty God (or — do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm — as the case may be) that I am the same person as the person whose name appears as AB on the register of Dáil electors now in force for the constitutency of……….and that I have not already voted at this election, and that I had attained the age of eighteen years on……….(date of coming into force of the register)”;

And if such person refuses to take the oath or make the affirmation he shall not be permitted to vote.

The Bibles, however, do not have to be in a prominent location in the stations. They can be hidden from view.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock tweeted earlier about the bibles in his local polling station being moved from sight.

“…They’ve put them in a less prominent place and Officer has been informed not to give misleading explanations as to why they’re there,” he tweeted.

RTÉ is describing this morning’s turnout as “brisk” with many stations reporting up to 30% turnout already.

f45e3668c4c4555daba28853790a777a Source: https://www.pinterest.ie/source/zeurel.deviantart.com/

And now for some light relief.

(If you can’t see any puppies, click here.)

Posted by on Sunday, 13 June 2021

More on turnout from RTÉ reporters around the country.

In the northwest, there has been a slow start in Leitrim but Sligo‘s polling station officers are describing turnout as “unusually brisk”.

In Donegal, where turnout is about 18% as of lunch, there has been a noticeable number of young people voting.

The Mayo towns of Castlebar and Westport saw turnouts of 15-16% by lunch, with Foxford a little lower at 12%.

Similar to Sligo, Roscommon has been “very busy” with Roscommon town seeing turnout of 23% already.

In Galway – both east and west – officers have said turnout has been “well in excess” compared with those in the last General Election and Marriage Referendum at the same time of day.

Across the country, the most noticeable turnout so far has been a 30% turnout in Bray already.

Some more on turnout from RTÉ’s Paschal Sheehy in Munster…

Again, higher turnouts than normal across the board with 20% in Cork City turned out by lunch and 16-17% in other areas of the county.

Kerry towns of Killarney and Tralee have seen 17-18% of the electorate vote so far, while in more rural areas, it’s at 14-15%. 

Limerick has seen turnout of between 15-28% at polling stations.

About 16% of people on the register in Tipperary have voted, while up to 27% in Waterford have done the same.

A press release from Save the 8th campaign has detailed what its volunteers are up to for the day.

3720 Cora Sherlock_90545825 Cora Sherlock of the Loveboth group at he polling station in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

More than 4,000 of them are “engaged in one of the largest get out the vote operations in Irish history”, the campaign said.

Here’s what has been done so far, according to the statement:

  • Almost 250,000 committed ‘no’ voters have been identified over the course of the canvass. Each one of their doors have been knocked again this week to ensure that they get out and vote.
  • A social media campaign to motivate no voters and undecideds is in full swing.
  • Volunteers nationwide are engaged in ferrying voters to and from the polls.
  • Volunteers are out putting up banners on motorway overpasses, talking to people in the streets, and encouraging the vote to come out.
  • Many volunteers are acting as poll monitors, reporting back on turnout, and will record the total number of votes cast in each polling station when polls close tonight.

Campaign chair Niamh UiBhriain said her group is “encouraged by the high turnout so far this morning”.

There’s been a call made to open Dublin Castle tomorrow for the results of today’s referendum, as it happened in 2015 following the same-sex marriage vote.

90381631_90381631 The Dublin Castle Courtyard on 23 May 2015 Source: Sam boal/Photocall Ireland

Labour representative for Dublin South Central Rebecca Moynihan says she has written to Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, whos is the junior minister with responsibility in the area, to “allow all those who have given so much to this campaign to congregate”.

“Access should be open to the Upper Yard of Dublin Castle, and the results of the referendum as they come in should be shown on a large screen, as it was three years ago for the marriage equality results day,” she continued.

This has been a long campaign, thirty-five years in the making. It has ignited a new sense of activism among young people in our country. I think it is appropriate for Dublin Castle to be open to as many that want to attend, rather than just the select few who were randomly allocated tickets and accredited media.

Our reporter Michelle Hennessy is chasing the story – and we’ll report back.

The Save the 8th campaign has sent this email to its supporters in the last few minutes.


I’m not a gambling woman but some words from TheJournal.ie reporter Garreth McNamee on what the bookies are predicting:

“The betting on the referendum has changed dramatically in the last hour.

“Bookmakers were yesterday offering odds of 1/7 for the Eighth Amendment to be repealed with the odds of it being retained at 4/1. In the last hour, the odds for repeal have shortened to 1/8 (meaning repeal is more likely) while retention drifted to 9/2.

“In the past five minutes, odds for repeal have shortened once again to 1/10 – meaning if you put €100 on the 8th to be repealed you would get just €110 back.

“Retention now stands at 11/2.”

Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald ahead of casting her vote in Dublin today.

MARY LOU MC DUNALD VOTES II2A2943_90545885 The Polling Station on the Navan Road Cabra Dublin Source: Eamonn Farrell

As most people know by now, posters are not allowed within a 50m radius of polling stations.

However, those rules have been ignored by some campaigners with posters causing difficulties for officials in some areas.

PastedImage-66406 Source: Dave Murphy

Gráinne Ní Aodha reports:

After a bit of initial confusion, it was clarified that voters who see posters located within 50 metres of the polling station should report it to the returning officer, who can then contact An Garda Síochána to remove the posters.

Gardaí told TheJournal.ie: “Anyone with a complaint should contact the returning officer at the polling station who will contact Gardaí if necessary”.

We showed you the statement sent by Save the Eighth encouraging people to get their neighbours and friends out to vote, and Together4Yes has now sent theirs.

Campaign co-director Orla O’Connor said:

Early indications are that turnout across the country is quite strong, however we know there are certain pockets where turnout is a bit slower, so we would encourage voters in these areas to talk to their friends, family members and work colleagues, and make sure they vote before the deadline of 10pm.

1983 ABORTION ISSUES REFERENDUMS Bertie Ahern TD walks by a pro-life protester outside Leinster House. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Ireland has held a number of referendums related to abortion over the past four decades.

In 1983, the Fine Gael-led government (following a fractious political time) called a referendum to insert the Eighth Amendment into the Constitution.

It was passed.

Turnout was 53.7%, with a majority of 66.9% in favour of the amendment and 32.1% against. It was signed into law just one month later.

File Photo: The Eight Amendment is back on the political agenda, due to the case of a young woman who is brain dead and being kept alive on a life suport machine to keep her 17 week old foetus viable. A confrontation between pro-life and pro-choice supporters on O'Connell Bridge in Dublin on 25 April 1992. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

In 1992 – after the X Case - the government proposed three amendments to the Constitution.

Two of the three passed. They inserted into the Constitution the right for a woman to travel for an abortion and the right for a woman to receive information about abortion. They remain as the 13th and 14th amendments in Bunreacht na hEireann.

The Twelfth Amendment was rejected by the people (65% to 34%). That could have seen suicide as a ground for a lawful termination taken away.

Turnout was 68.2%.

PastedImage-83729 Top: Maria Davin (now Steen) during a pro-life press conference on 1 March 2002. Bottom: Mary Lou McDonald was Sinn Féin's spokesperson on the abortion referendum Source: RollingNews.ie

In 2002, the issue of suicide was put to the public again. Once more, it was rejected (but only narrowly at 49.58% to 50.42%).

Turnout was much smaller at 42.8%.

Hello! Aoife Barry here, looking after the liveblog after Sinéad.

Turnout is unusually high in some areas already today – earlier, we showed you Kevin Humphrey’s tweet  which noted a 47% turnout in Belmont Avenue in Donnybrook.

Richard Chambers of Newstalk said just a few hours ago that turnout was into the thirties in other locations in Dublin. Polls stay open till 10 tonight – and we still have the post-work rush to go.

newschambres Source: Twitter

You’re probably wondering what the turnout for the marriage equality referendum was like back in 2015. Well, there were two referendums that day, one on presidential age, and one on marriage equality.

There was 60.52% turnout, with 1,949,725 votes cast and 1,201,607 in favour of same-sex marriage.

The proposal to reduce the presidential candidacy age was rejected however, with 73.06% of voters voting against it.

There was a 53.7% turnout for the 1983 referendum on the Eighth Amendment, and a 42.8% turnout for 2002′s abortion referendum. So it will be interesting to see if we exceed 60% turnout for today’s voting.

Have you cast your vote yet? Some of our team will be heading out after work to cast theirs.

Only six hours to go, as the Referendum Commission is reminding us:

PastedImage-54092 Source: Twitter

In non-referendum news (yep, there’s some out there) – it’s GDPR day today.

And though we all knew about the influx of emails asking us to opt-in to mailing lists, here’s something we didn’t expect: some US news websites have been blocked because of the law.


Read more about why here.

More updated turnouts coming in – RTÉ says that turnout in Kilkenny is:

  • Ballyhale: 30%
  • Knocktopher: 24%
  • Hugginstown: 31%

RTÉ’s Damien Tiernan says there are at least 30% turnouts in most rural parts of Kilkenny, with 35% on average in more urban areas. He says there’s a “big rush expected” later on this evening.

VOTING 883_90545856 Source: Sam Boal

You’ve cast your vote today. And counting starts tomorrow morning.

So what happens to the votes in between?

The national returning officer Barry Ryan has been giving an insight into what’s involved in the count tomorrow, and told RTÉ  Drivetime that the ballot boxes are stored overnight in local count centres.  The local returning officers are in charge of securing the boxes overnight, at the 26 count centres across the country.

The opening of the ballot boxes begins at 9am tomorrow, and once the contents of each ballot box has been verified, the counting begins.

There are 40 constituencies – just like the Dáil election constituencies – and the results from all of these are sent the central count centre.

But what time can we expect the result to be announced? “It’s always difficult to be absolutely precise on timing,” said Barry. He did point out that the result of the marriage referendum was announced just before 7pm in 2015, but there have been others made earlier in the day (and there were two referendums that day).

“We really have to wait and see,” he said. So for now, it’s still a waiting game. He also noted that if the turnout is high, that can affect the time it takes to count the votes.

Earlier we told you Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan was calling for a large screen to be installed in the Upper Yard of Dublin Castle so campaigners can gather for the results, similar to the set-up for the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015.

We’ve been told the yard will be open to the public, but there will only be small podiums for media use. There are no plans at the moment to install a large screen or a stage.

That said, in 2013 it was a somewhat last-minute decision to put those arrangements in place, so it is possible this could change tomorrow

90381681_90381681 Here's what Dublin Castle looked like in 2015. Source: Rolling News

RTÉ will be announcing its exit poll results at 11.30pm tonight – but there’s another exit poll in town.

The Irish Times has just announced it’ll be doing its own exit poll, though it doesn’t say what time it will be published at.

The exit poll is being conducted by Ipsos/MRBI among 4,000 respondents at 160 polling stations in every constituency. Interviewing began at 7am on Friday as the first voters went to the polls, and continued throughout the day. Interviewing will also continue throughout the evening as voters cast their ballots.

It says today’s poll is expected to have a margin of +/-1.5%.

Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciaran Cannon has cast his vote – unlike his Fine Gael party leader, he voted No.

Here, the Galway East TD and junior minister explained why:

ciaran cannon Source: Twitter

Here’s what Dublin Castle looks like right now – those tents are due to be used by the media. No sign of a big screen at this point:

rachel killeen Source: Twitter

Need a bit of a break from all things referendum?

We’ve got your back.

Take a cruise on Dublin’s Grand Canal with us…

(Can’t see the Facebook video? Click here to go to Facebook or here to go to Twitter)

Posted by on Sunday, 13 June 2021

It’s 6pm, but you might still have some questions if you haven’t voted yet.

Here’s our piece from earlier today  about everything you need to know about the voting process – and results day.

That’s all from me, Aoife – I’ll leave you now in the capable hands of Seán Murray.

Cheers Aoife!

RTÉ’s Six One is on, and high turnout being reported in a number of areas.

Activists on both sides still urging people who haven’t been to vote yet to get out and make sure they do – you have till 10pm tonight to cast your vote.

RTÉ’s Six One News is on, and its reporters from various areas are talking about turnout.

Paschal Sheehy, down in Cork, says turnout has been steady and it might eclipse that of the marriage equality referendum in 2015.

He’s also wearing a very snazzy suit.

Here he is on an earlier bulletin:

paschal sheehy Source: RTÉ/Twitter

Our reporters Christina Finn and Michelle Hennessy have been looking into the plans for the Dublin Castle courtyard for tomorrow.

That was the setting for the jubilant scenes after the marriage equality referendum in 2015, of course.

As it stands, the courtyard will be open to the public tomorrow but there are no plans just yet to install a large screen or a stage.

Although that can still change.

On count day for the marriage equality referendum in 2015 it was a somewhat last-minute decision to put those arrangements in place, so it is possible this could change tomorrow.

You can read more about it here.

As well as referendum day, it’s also the gardaí’s National Slow Down day today.

The gardaí have sent in a statement detailing some of the speeding drivers it’s caught around the country today.

One of those was this one, caught travelling 170km/hr.

So, even if you’re rushing to vote this evening, the message from gardaí is to slow down and stay safe.

The results of the vote tomorrow will come in constituency by constituency, just like it was for the original vote on the Eighth Amendment in 1983.

That vote passed by 67%, and here’s a breakdown of how that vote went area-by-area. Just five of the 41 voted against the Eighth.

It’s almost seven o’clock, and that’s where we’ll leave it for today’s liveblog.

Polls close at 10pm tonight, and TheJournal.ie will be providing updates as the exit polls come in later this evening.

And then we’ll be keeping you updated throughout tomorrow as the results start to come in around the country.

Until then…

About the author:

Rónán Duffy


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