At last, Ireland's big heart turns the love on itself

by Garry Watts May 27, 2018, 14:12
At last, Ireland's big heart turns the love on itself

A Yes voter poses with a badge as votes are counted in the Irish abortion referendum, at the RDS Conference centre in Dublin on May 26, 2018.

The campaign was defined by women publicly sharing their painful experiences of leaving the country for procedures, a key reason why all but one of Ireland's 40 constituencies voted "Yes".

"I'd like to thank the people of Limerick, they've showed great compassion". "I think it is a huge moment for Ireland and (an) indescribably huge moment for Irish women".

"I feel safe now, I feel comfortable", she said. The once conservative nation voted "yes" to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion.

"This is a huge step forward for Ireland", Mr Coveney said.

"This is a monumental day for women in Ireland", said Orla O'Connor, co-director of the Together for Yes group.

For those who voted No, he said: "I would like to reassure you that Ireland is still be the same country today as it was before, just a little more tolerant, open and respectful".

For decades, thousands of Irish women sought abortions illegally each year.

With devolution on ice in Belfast amid local political rows, Mrs May could legislate directly from Westminster to liberalise abortion in the province, despite it being a devolved issue.

In the wake of the results of the vote, Varadkar said Irish laws would likely be changed by the end of the year.

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Effectively, that means abortion is banned in Ireland unless the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the mother's life. The size of the win for abortion rights exceeded expectations and was cast as a historic victory for women's rights.

Chants of "Yes we did" rose from the crowd as the Referendum Commission's Returning Officer Barry Ryan announced the final results.

Saturday's triumph for abortion reformers occurred only months before Pope Francis visits the country - the first since John Paul II's tour of Ireland in 1979. The Save The Eighth campaign said yesterday: "What Irish voters did is a tragedy of historic proportions".

Comedian and television sion presenter Dara O Briain tweeted: "Special con-congratulations to those in Ireland who stood up and told their stories, and pushed back shame and silence, and banished it from this debate".

Ireland's Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said Saturday she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year.

In the wording of the now repealed Eighth Amendment, women in Ireland could only have an abortion if they could prove to the court or to the medical community that their lives were threatened.

The country has had one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws, which is enshrined in its constitution.

Those opposed to abortion vowed Saturday to take their fight now to the Irish Parliament, where lawmakers will have to bring about legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother's life or the fetus is not expected to survive.

At Dublin Castle, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald and deputy leader Michelle O'Neill held up a banner with the words: "The North is next".

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