Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle ahead of final Eighth Amendment result

Dr Peter Boylan says the result marks a “wonderful day for Irish women”

Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle ahead of final Eighth Amendment result

File photo of Eighth Amendment Referendum posters outside Government Buildings in Dublin, 24-05-2018.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has arrived at Dublin Castle ahead of the expected final result in the Eighth Amendment referendum.

After eight weeks of campaigning, most official results have now been declared.

Counting has been underway around the country since 9.00am this morning - with both estimated tallies and exit polls indicating that the Irish people have voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Official results

Just after 1.00pm today the first official result came in from Galway East - where 60.19% of the electorate voted 'Yes.'

Dublin Central was the next to come in - with 76.51% of voters in favour of repeal.

Cork South Central was the third to declare an official result - with 68.84% voting yes. 

Cork North Central meanwhile has confirmed a final result of 64.02% in favour of repeal.

It is expected the overall final result will be in at around 4.00pm or 5.00pm.

There are now just a handful of constituencies left to declare.

"Quiet revolution"

Speaking in Citywest this afternoon, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the Irish people’s decision as “the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the past couple of decades.”

"The public have spoken," he said. "The result appears to be resounding in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment."

“It is possible even that we could carry every constituency in the country – men and women, almost every age group and every social class and that demonstrates to me that we are a country that is not divided." 

"Significant day"

Arriving at his Wicklow constituency count centre this morning, the Health Minister Simon Harris said Ireland has a new message for women facing crisis pregnancy.

“Up to this point we have been saying, ‘take the plane’ or ‘take the boat,’” he said.

“We are now saying ‘take our hand ... we want to be able to care for you with compassion in our own country.'”

He said the projected result marks a 'significant day' for the country.

Describing the Eighth Amendment as a "failed experiment," Minister Harris said the vote illustrates a compassionate Ireland.

"There were efforts during the course of this campaign to suggest there was a rural Ireland and an urban Ireland," he said.

"But what we're now seeing is that there's a compassionate campaign in both rural and urban Ireland."

"I'm just so grateful to the Irish people for voting in the way they have." 

"Wonderful day for Irish women"

Arriving at the RDS count centre, the former Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital Dr Peter Boylan said the projected result marks a “wonderful day for Irish women.”

“I want to pay particular tribute to the women and the couples from TFMR who told their stories so bravely and for women like Tara Flynn who came out and told their stories.

“It wasn’t easy and it has taken a huge emotional toll on them. I think their bravery has to be recognised.

“I would also like to pay tribute my fellow consultants and specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology who came out.

“They are the ones who are working at the coalface.”

"Tragedy"

Just after 10.00am this morning the 'Save the 8th' campaign group described the vote of the Irish people as a "tragedy of historic proportions" adding "a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it." 

"The unborn child no longer has a right to life recognised by the Irish state," it said.

"Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country - we will oppose that legislation.

"If and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland, because of the inability of the Government to keep their promise about a GP led service, we will oppose that as well.

"Every time an unborn child has his or her life ended in Ireland, we will oppose that, and make our voices known.

"Abortion was wrong yesterday. It remains wrong today. The constitution has changed, but the facts have not.”

"Decency and dignity"

'Together For Yes' co-director Orla O’Connor described the projected result as "a resounding roar from the Irish people for repealing the 8th amendment."

"A core element of our campaign strategy was to focus strongly on the fact that abortion was already a reality in Ireland for thousands and thousands of women – either those who were forced to travel or take abortion pills illegally at home," she said.

"We can’t forget that even as these votes are being counted there are probably women returning from Liverpool after having had an abortion, or are at home after having taken an abortion pill.

"These stories were central tenet of our campaign and we will be forever indebted to those women and couples whose own bravery and dignity have moved hearts and changed minds - and given the scale of the victory, changed the country.” 

History

Following the release of the polls on Friday night, Mr Varadkar tweeted that it was “looking like we will make history tomorrow.”

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the polls suggest a “stunning result that will bring about a fundamental change for the better.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the “view of our Republic is clear and we as an Oireachtas should move efficiently to enact the will of our people.” 

"Bleak picture"

Pro-life campaigners have also been reacting to the polls.

In a statement, 'Love Both' said the predictions "paint a bleak picture," paving the way for "abortion on demand."

Spokesperson Dr Ruth Cullen said: “We are immensely proud and grateful to all our volunteers throughout the country who worked tirelessly over recent months to ensure unborn babies would not be deprived of legal protections.

"Regardless of what happens today the campaign to protect unborn babies will endure.”

Legislation

If the result is confirmed as expected the Government has said it is committed to introducing unrestricted access to abortion for women up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

Abortions will be permitted later in terms where there is a risk to a woman's life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman.

Speaking from his Wicklow constituency to Ivan Yates on Newstalk this afternoon, the Health Minister Simon Harris said he will ask his Cabinet colleagues for permission to begin drafting the legislation on Tuesday.

"I expect my officials will spend most of the summer drafting the legislation,"he said.

"I would hope - and this is indicative at this stage, I will have to do some work with my officials - but I would hope to be in a position to introduce the legislation into the Oireachtas in the autumn."

Voter turnout

Voting began at 7.00am yesterday, with many areas reporting high turnout early on.

However figures suggested turnout slowed after an initial rush.

Some turnout predictions were as high as 70% in urban areas in Wicklow.

Athlone was reported at around 60%, with Roscommon on 51%.

Parts of Kildare saw turnout as high as 78%.

Polls

According to last night's polls, the only demographic to vote ‘No’ seems to have been the over 65s with all other age groups emphatically voting yes.

Young people aged 18 to 24-years-old voted 87% in favour of repeal.