PM hails abor­tion yes vote

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Ire­land’s prime min­is­ter hailed as a ‘‘quiet revo­lu­tion’’ the vote that de­liv­ered an over­whelm­ing ver­dict in favour of re­peal­ing strict abor­tion laws and marked a drift away from the coun­try’s con­ser­va­tive Catholic roots.

More than 67 per cent voted in favour of re­form in a land­slide vic­tory for the pro-choice Yes cam­paign.

Crowds ap­plauded, em­braced and wept in the yard of Dublin Cas­tle, where the re­sult was an­nounced yes­ter­day after a day of counting the votes.

A few yards down the road, at City Hall, a group of Yes vot­ers broke into spon­ta­neous singing, cheered on by passersby.

Say­ing that Ire­land had fi­nally ‘‘come of age’’, Leo Varad­kar, the Taoiseach (Prime Min­is­ter), said: ‘‘The peo­ple have said we want a mod­ern con­sti­tu­tion for a mod­ern coun­try, and that we trust women to make the right de­ci­sions about their own health­care.’’

The sup­port for re­peal­ing Ire­land’s eighth amend­ment, which only al­lows abor­tion if the mother’s life is at risk, was higher than even the most op­ti­mistic of pro­jec­tions in the early stages of the ref­er­en­dum.

It pointed to a seis­mic shift in so­cial at­ti­tudes in a coun­try once syn­ony­mous with dog­matic re­li­gious con­ser­vatism.

The vote on Satur­day fol­lowed a land­mark one on gay mar­riage and the elec­tion of a gay Taoiseach in Varad­kar in the last three years.

‘‘We voted to look re­al­ity in the eye and we did not blink,’’ said Varad­kar.

Orla O’connor, head of the pro-choice Yes cam­paign, described the re­sult as a ‘‘re­sound­ing roar for the Ir­ish peo­ple’’.

He said: ‘‘We will be for­ever in­debted to those women and cou­ples whose own brav­ery and dig­nity have moved hearts, changed minds and changed the coun­try,’’ she said.

Re­peal­ing the eighth amend­ment will end a regime that banned abor­tion even in cases of rape or fa­tal foetal ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

Thou­sands of women found them­selves com­pelled to travel to Eng­land for ter­mi­na­tions.

The out­come has also blurred the lines along which Ire­land has been tra­di­tion­ally di­vided. Farm­ers, for ex­am­ple, came out en­thu­si­as­ti­cally for the pro­choice Yes cam­paign, as did a group called Grand­fa­thers Say Yes, whose daugh­ters and wives were un­able to have safe ter­mi­na­tions at home due to the eighth amend­ment.

‘‘I am ab­so­lutely over the moon,’’ said 25-year-old Yes voter Erica Lee.

‘‘The vote for Yes is so much higher than we an­tic­i­pated. There was talk of a di­vide be­tween the Dublin bub­ble and ru­ral areas that could tilt things to­ward No but that has turned out not to be the case, to our re­lief.’’

She added the ‘‘pa­tro­n­is­ing, nasty tone’’ of the No cam­paign, backed by the Catholic church, had brought large num­bers of vot­ers into the Yes camp.

Ex­perts had pre­dicted that many of Ire­land’s ru­ral re­gions would vote No, with the Yes votes con­cen­trated around Dublin and other large cities.

But even in County Roscom­mon, which re­jected gay mar­riage in the 2015 ref­er­en­dum, 59 per cent voted Yes. And in Long­ford, also long con­sid­ered a haven of so­cial con­ser­vatism, 58 per cent opted for re­peal.

Yes sup­port was so wide­spread that the pro-choice No cam­paign con­ceded de­feat hours be­fore the count fin­ished.

‘‘The peo­ple of Ire­land weighed it in the bal­ance and it came down on one side. I ob­vi­ously would have pre­ferred if they had come down on the other,’’ John Mcguirk, spokesman for the ‘‘Save the 8th’’ cam­paign, said yes­ter­day.– Tele­graph Group

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